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The Effect of Acupuncture on Cervical Spine Disorders

By Kimberlee Leonard

Cervical spine disorders affect the neck and shoulder area of the back. Conditions such as stenosis, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis can cause nerve impingement affecting the use of upper extremities. Not everyone who suffers a cervical spine disorder will require surgery. Often conservative treatments of physical therapy, medication and use of ice and heat are enough for patients to cope with the condition and maintain most lifestyle activities. The ancient Eastern practice of acupuncture is another conservative option.

Acupuncture Premise

Acupuncture is a non-traditional therapeutic practice widely used in Chinese and other Asian communities for more than 2,500 years. According to Paulo Zanardi, A.P. for Spine-Health, the human body has more than 2,000 points connecting the 20 meridians in the body. Meridians are energy centers. Based on acupuncture principals, when there is a problem in the body, there is a blockage of energy. The blockage is released by the positioning of acupuncture needles, relieving symptoms.

Western Medicine’s Thoughts

Western medicine has looked at the testimonial success of acupuncture for back treatment and postulates the reasons it can work. One thought is that opioids are released providing the body with its natural analgesic chemicals in the brain and endorphins in the body to reduce pain. Certain techniques using heat and cups increase blood flow; as circulation increases, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the unhealthy cervical spine area, assisting with nerve, muscle and joint rehabilitation.

Acupuncture Expectations

Having realistic expectations of any therapy program is imperative to determining its success. Acupuncture cannot repair or heal an underlying condition. For example, if you have stenosis where nerve root channels are too narrow, acupuncture cannot make those channels larger. However, if pain management is the goal, acupuncture provides relief along with other conservative treatments as recommended the Precision Neurosurgery Clinic in Australia.

Your First Visit

Those unfamiliar with acupuncture treatment may be intimidated with the array of needles used in any one treatment. Licensed Western practitioners use FDA-approved sanitary needles. The needles are thin, about the diameter of a strand of hair. The acupuncturist may use anywhere from five to 100 needles in any one session, strategically placing the needles into points that affect the neck meridian. Points exist throughout the body. Needles are left in position for anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes while you relax often listening to soothing music.

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