Acupuncture for Stiff Neck: Can It Help Me?


A stiff neck (i.e. “Torticollis”) is a common ailment millions of us suffer from time to time. It may occur through repetitive strain or movement, improper posture or sleeping positions, or intense periods of stress and anxiety. ‘Stiff neck’, as we know it colloquially, is caused by straining the levator scapulae muscle, which connects your spine with your shoulder. 

While the causes listed above are fairly common, there are some causes of stiff neck that are considered rare and may be connected to chronic disease. For example, you may experience pain in your levator scapulae if you suffer from herniated discs, cervical osteoarthritis, or degenerative spine disease.

Regardless of cause and intensity, a stiff neck can seriously impact your daily flexibility. Whether at work, at play, or on the track, chronic neck strain can cause aggravating pain and restrict functionality. It’s important to consider regular treatments – beyond daily pain medication – to stave off long-term damage and frequent discomfort. Have you, for example, ever considered acupuncture for a stiff neck?

Is having acupuncture for a stiff neck a good idea?

Many studies show that acupuncture for a stiff neck is highly conducive to regaining mobility and reducing chronic pain, providing treatments take place regularly.

Acupuncture is a staple of traditional eastern medicine that has been relied upon for centuries. During this therapy, acupuncture needles are delicately probed into motor points and problem areas across the body to help redirect oxygen and blood flow for efficient healing and pain relief. In many cases, it is a non-invasive procedure, providing an ideal alternative to unnecessary surgery and medicinal dependency.

Studies published as recently as 2021 indicate that functionality increase and pain relief can be expected through regular acupuncture for stiff neck complaints. Additionally, further study suggests that frequent acupuncture can help reduce stress, a significant component in the development of stiff neck and associated strains.

While acupuncture’s level of effectiveness in terms of neck pain relief will vary from patient to patient, random trials continue to prove that targeted needling – as well as vacuum cupping – perform well compared to placebo studies.

When should I book acupuncture for stiff neck?

It is important to seek medical or therapeutic help for a stiff neck as soon as it starts to impede on your everyday life – or, your enjoyment of it! While experiencing an occasional stiff neck from sleeping in a strange position can be easily offset with a few stretches – and will unlikely last more than minutes at a time – chronic stiff neck can cause discomfort and immobility for days at a time.

It is never a good idea to dismiss a recurring case of stiff neck, especially if you are merely treating the problem with pain medication. Painkillers will only silence receptors in your brain and nervous system for a temporary period. Moreover, a stiff neck can lead to headaches and strains in the shoulders, back, and arms. This could lead to further discomfort at work and in everyday life, potentially leading you to take time away from the things you want and need to do.

You may even be referred for acupuncture through your doctor or physician. In many cases, acupuncture, cupping, or dry needling may be prescribed alongside recommended medication.

We recommend you book an acupuncture session as soon as you feel ready. At Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, we will carefully guide you through what you can expect from a prospective course of treatment from an initial session onwards.

What to expect from acupuncture for your stiff neck

Your first session at an acupuncture clinic will allow you to explain your pain condition and raise any concerns with a specialist. Typically, an initial session will revolve around a brief strength assessment, where your acupuncturist will closely examine your stiff neck and ascertain where relief and flexibility are most required.

The acupuncture process is soothing and warm – regardless of the areas targeted. Rather than expecting a painful procedure, visitors expect symmetrical needling in line with additional therapies, applying delicate stimulation to your body tissues and improving nerve impulses into muscles and joints. 

While you may be experiencing stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulders, a specialist may also prescribe acupuncture elsewhere in the body. This is to help map out blood flow and oxygen to and from areas of concern. It is a common misconception that acupuncture needling only occurs around problem areas!

Acupuncture will help to soften muscles to allow for blood to flow easier across your motor network, releasing tension and improving circulation. You’ll often start to feel better immediately after your first session.

It’s vital, in any case, to book regular acupuncture sessions to ensure you receive full respite for your stiff neck. After your first consultation and treatment, be sure to discuss your immediate feelings with your specialist. Feedback is crucial to ensuring long-term relief – as while acupuncture can be highly beneficial in soothing a wide variety of muscle and joint problems, it is never a one-time fix.

With regular acupuncture, you can expect to notice neck stiffness and pain to reduce significantly. This means you’ll be able to get back to work, exercise, and play with little fear of inflexibility and fatigue preventing you from making progress.

Book your first acupuncture session

Acupuncture shouldn’t be a frightening procedure. While many people dislike needles, our clinic ensures you always benefit from gentle, gradual therapy, helping you to appreciate the benefits of regular treatment. Acupuncture for stiff neck and associated strains could help to prevent further pain and inflexibility, as well as to improve your quality of life.

To book an initial acupuncture session and strength assessment with Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, call our clinic directly or book online at your earliest convenience. Don’t let a stiff neck – and any pain or strain that arrives alongside – stop you from doing the things you love.

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