Acupuncture for Shoulder & Neck Pain

Table of Contents

Natural Treatment for Shoulders & Neck Pain

Shoulder & neck pain are widespread complaints in acupuncture clinics. The most common pain source is muscular due to stress and bad posture, but some conditions can be more complicated due to changes in the shoulder and neck structure. Diagnosis of the source of the pain is essential. For example, the cervical (neck) spine is often the cause of pain in the shoulder and arm. If not appropriately diagnosed, the treatment will be less effective.

This article will present natural ways to treat shoulder and neck pain. This article will help you find the best natural and effective treatment if you suffer from chronic or acute pain in the neck and shoulder.

Why Do We Have Neck Pain?

The neck structure carries the head’s weight, and it is vital to the body’s free movement of air, food, fluids, blood, nerves and more. The neck structure is built out of the spine vertebrae, discs, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to protect this necessary connection,

Stiff Neck, Neck Strain or Neck Sprain

A common cause of both neck and shoulder pain is a spasm of the neck muscles and ligaments. Many times, one side will be more dominant with pain and movement impairment. In most cases, this is an acute pain that can appear suddenly and disappear after a few days, but it can become chronic in some cases.

The best way is to treat the pain as soon as possible. Acupuncture can relieve this kind of a pain in very few treatments and prevent it from becoming chronic pain (that can last for months or years).

Whiplash Treatment

Whiplash is most commonly associated with car accidents, but it can be related to any impact or blow – like falling to the ground or getting hit on the head and causes your head to jerk forward or backward. This radical movement can risk your spine breaking, which can lead to being paralyzed or even death. In cases of whiplash, There is a defensive spam mechanism of the neck muscles. Resisting the sudden force stretches and creates micro-tears in the muscles and tendons in the neck. The pain can appear immediately after the accident or a few weeks or months after.

First, in an accident or injury case, go to your physician to eliminate fractures or any other severe damage. Second, for best results, acupuncture treatment should be done as soon as possible to prevent whiplash from becoming a chronic condition.

Cervical Spine Conditions

Conditions related to the cervical vertebrae and the nerves are considered more severe such as Herniated or bulging disc in the neck. Pain or other sensations radiating to the head, neck, shoulder arm and up to the fingers may be related to the nerve.

These conditions are more severe and painful than a strained neck and whiplash and are also harder to treat.
A chronic strain/sprain of the neck or whiplash, or long-term lousy posture, can regress to damage the spine and nerve. Acupuncture is beneficial in these cases, but it will take at least a few weeks to heal the neck pain.

Shoulder conditions


Muscular pain and tension of the shoulder

The most common shoulder pain is related to muscular tension, often due to stress. The pain radiates to the neck and head and creates headaches. See more in the migraine/headache article here.
A chronic condition of muscular tension can lead to other more severe shoulder and neck pain. Acupuncture, massage and exercise can benefit the shoulder and neck muscle ligaments and tendons.

Shoulder joint condition

These are conditions of the shoulder joints themselves, and the person will feel pain and movement restriction. The shoulder joint state is arthritis of the shoulder, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff conditions, Bursitis of the shoulder, and the shoulder’s tendonitis. These conditions are more chronic and harder to treat. In acupuncture, we will first look to see if there is any inner imbalance in the body’s organs that has caused the condition. In cases of arthritis, herbal therapy is beneficial to acupuncture treatment.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder is a condition that can develop from any of these mentioned conditions. Shoulder pain, inflammation, or an injury after a few weeks or months has radically limited the shoulder’s movement. Frozen shoulder is considered a more chronic condition. In Chinese Medicine, the name for a frozen shoulder is “A 50 years old shoulder”.

With a Frozen shoulder, it is essential to increase the shoulder’s mobility range and reduce the pain—the earlier treated, the better the results. Acupuncture is beneficial for treating frozen shoulder combined with appropriate exercises.

Shoulder and neck pain can be a complication of a problem of spine-like scoliosis. In older people, where the spine is more rigid and harder to fix, we should consider specially adjusted orthopedic insoles.

Neck and Shoulder Pain in Alternative Medicine

Many people are looking for a natural treatment for shoulder or neck pain when the drug treatment of anti-inflammatories or injections are unsuccessful, and surgery is not the desired option. Over 100,000 Americans die each year because of prescription drugs, and living on painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or steroids is not healthy. Natural medicine effectively treats the different kinds of neck and shoulder issues, whether from injury or a degenerative process.

Acupuncture for Treating the Neck and Shoulders

Acupuncture is very efficient for different kinds of inflammation, pain and impaired movement. Acupuncture needles are placed in acupuncture points that open the energetic blocks and bring back the neck’s harmonious energy flow.
Acupuncture creates a better flow of blood and energy to the neck and shoulder and makes access to the immune system and other body systems to rehabilitate the damaged tissues.

Patients report a sense of flow when the needle is inserted into the body; it is an experience that indicates the opening of an energetic block in the neck or shoulder. In severe conditions, it is advisable to have a more frequent therapy, and the more there is an improvement in the disease, it is possible to reduce the frequency of the treatment. Usually, at least a few treatments are required to see a more permanent improvement.

Acupuncture Treatment for Neck Pain

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• Stiff Neck, Neck strain or Neck Sprain – Usually, New conditions will heal in very few sessions. Chronic Condition will show improvement quickly, but it may take more time for complete healing.
• Whiplash – Same as mentioned; the sooner you come for an acupuncture treatment, the faster the results will be (of course, it is advised you see your physician first). Saying that many times the pain may arrive a few weeks after the impact. Balance Method Acupuncture is beneficial; also cupping is very useful for these conditions.
• Cervical Herniated or bulging disc -These conditions are more severe. The spine’s actual structure is damaged; therefore, it is recommended to get acupuncture treatment until there is no pain. Secondly, maintain the health of the cervical spine by doing neck exercises, coming in for maintenance treatment once a month, and trying your best to keep a good posture.
• Arthritis and osteoarthritis – in these cases, it is recommended to combine acupuncture with herbal therapy, and the same as the spine problems; maintenance is essential to prevent deterioration.

Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

• Muscular pain and tension in the shoulder in these cases, acupuncture will be

used to alleviate pain from the shoulder and reduce stress in the body-mind. Some acupuncture protocols are very effective in reducing stress.
• Shoulder joints conditions – These conditions will usually be accompanied by pain and inflammation. So the acupuncture will be directed at reducing inflammation and pain at first and then recovering the structure of the damaged shoulders.
• Frozen Shoulder – Acupuncture will be used first to improve the motion range and later regenerate the underused muscles.

There are cases where surgical intervention is required, such as a very big or full tear in the ligament or tendon. Even in surgical intervention cases, it is recommended to combine acupuncture to accelerate the recovery and healing after the surgery.

Balance Method Acupuncture for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Acupuncture is very effective in alleviating inflammation, and in most cases, pain relief comes at the beginning of the treatment series. In the Balance Method, acupuncture needles are generally placed in points distal to the problem area. For neck and shoulder pain, we use special points located in the hands or feet to treat the neck. Acupuncture points around the knee are needed to treat the shoulder. This allows the patient to move the neck or shoulders during the session, and the therapist can check for improvement. Many times during treatment, the patient will experience pain relief and a broader movement range. This actually shows us whether more needles are required or not, and if so, we repeat this until at least a 50% improvement is achieved.


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Case Study for Treating Frozen Shoulder with Acupuncture

Danielle, a fifty-one-year-old woman, has been suffering from a frozen shoulder for the past six months. Her movement is limited and sometimes painful when she gets dressed, driving and on other occasions during the day.
She came to the clinic for Balance Method Acupuncture treatment. When I assessed her mobility in the clinic, she had difficulty lifting her arm above her head. The acupuncture I gave her focused on her knee points, which were on the opposite side of the body to her frozen shoulder.

After the needles were placed, Danielle was asked to move her arm gently, lifting her arm to a point just to where she began to feel pain. After inserting the needles, she could lift her arm 20 cm higher than before – a good sign that energy blockages were releasing. Danielle gradually kept improving. She received fifteen acupuncture treatments, and I gave the special exercises that she did daily. Seven weeks later, her shoulder was fully healed.

Recall Healing for Treating Neck and Shoulder Problems

In Recall Healing, we work on the subconscious, emotional conflict that causes neck and shoulder pain.
According to the Recall Healing method, every disease is connected to an emotional conflict in the person’s subconscious. Recall Healing is done through conversation. A session lasts about an hour and a half, and it usually takes between three to six sessions for complete healing.

The emotional sources of neck and shoulder pain can be many. The causes for the disease can be found in the person’s life cycles, during early childhood and sometimes in the genetic lineage. According to Recall Healing, the conflicts of inflammation or pain in any joint will be different. Often, joints issues have to do with a conflict around separation or the “joining together” of something or some people in a person’s life. In Recall Healing, we use a framework to guide the person to find the specific conflict relevant to them and in their subconscious.

The emotional causes of neck pain
To find the emotional cause of neck pain, we need to have a good diagnosis. Every vertebra of the neck is related to different conflicts. As for stiffness or a strained neck, it can be related to any neck movement that caused emotional pain – see example below. Chronic pain in the neck connected to the spine can also be related to submission and carrying a heavy physical, mental or emotional load.

Case study of treating a stiff neck with Recall Healing

A 22-year-old man, John, came to the clinic with a stiff neck. The pain was described as a 9 out of 10, and he couldn’t turn his head to the right side. Sudden stiffness had begun two days earlier.
After talking with John and reviewing the information on the Recall Healing questionnaire that he had filled out before the session, I was aware that his father had died suddenly several years ago. Of course, this was hard for the whole family. A few days before John coming to the clinic, a guest of the family had come to visit him and his family. He was an old friend of John’s father and similar in age and manner.

Whenever John heard a voice of an older man in the house, in his mind, he had an automatic response to think for a split second that it was his father, only to look over and then discover it was not him. Of course, John didn’t give this habit much attention, but this looking to his brain’s side and realizing it wasn’t his father was painful. When his dad’s friend came over, this response was triggered. So, to “help” him, his automatic brain blocked the ability to look to the side, creating a “stiff neck.” When John talked about it with me, he felt emotional, and after a few minutes, his neck relaxed, and mobility started to return. John described his neck as being 80% better, and it improved further in the next hour.

Recall Healing for Shoulder Pain

The emotional conflicts that relate to shoulder pain can be many. The symbolism of the shoulder is to push against a heavy door when it is locked. So, one of the main conflicts will be a situation that “I feel trapped.” Different aspects of the shoulder will be connected to various conflicts. Like all muscle, bone, ligament and tendon injuries, the conflict can be related to a movement or exercise done with the joint accompanied by devaluation or any other emotional trauma.

Case Study for Shoulder Tendinitis in Recall Healing

Claudia had been suffering from shoulder pain for the past six months. Her physician diagnosed her with shoulder tendinitis. He prescribed her medication that didn’t create any change, and she stopped taking the drug to avoid the side effects.

She came to the clinic for recall healing, and we discovered that a new manager started at her workplace a year earlier. Her new manager was very hard and tough toward Claudia and her colleagues. Claudia started to feel unhappy in her work, but because she was paid well and felt the experience would be good to have on her resume, she decided to stay in the job. She felt trapped within her workplace with no clear solution.

Claudia knew she was stressed at work, and she assumed that long hours on the computer created her injury. When she made the connection between the shoulder and her boss, she became emotional. When this was brought to her awareness, she understood she wasn’t actually trapped, but she is free, and she made a conscious choice to stay at her work. After the first session, the shoulder felt better. Later we found the conflict of being trapped in other places in her life and life cycles. We brought awareness to these conflicts, allowing them to be released from her brain and nervous system. After five consultations, her shoulder pain was gone.

Tui na to Treat Neck and Shoulder Pain

Similar to acupuncture, Tuina (Chinese medicine massage) also works on the meridians and acupuncture points. The Tui na will usually be local on the neck, shoulder and upper back and arms. Tui na is the Chinese physiotherapy method. Unlike Western physiotherapy or massage, Tui na relates to the Chinese diagnosis and working along the meridians. It is recommended to combine Tui na with acupuncture.

Shiatsu is also suited for neck and shoulder problems. Shiatsu treatment is slower and more gentle. Some Chinese medicine therapists prefer treating through Shiatsu, which is really a Japanese method but works according to Chinese medicine principles.

Chiropractic Treatment for Disc Herniation

It is safe to say that treating spinal problems is the chiropractor’s expertise. Chiropractic treatment can effectively treat a neck problem like herniated disc, bulging disc and upper backaches in general. The treatment starts with warming up the area and later manipulating the spine in several manners to restore the vertebrae into position and reduce the pressure on the disc.

There are different chiropractic approaches; some are gentler, and some are more aggressive. The chiropractor doctor knows how to tailor the right treatment to the problem, specific to the patient.
The difficulty in chiropractic treatment is that the treatment can cause more pain in the beginning because of spinal manipulation. It is important to combine chiropractic treatment with methods to relax the muscles and reduce inflammation, like acupuncture. It is recommended to combine the chiropractic treatment with massage, Tui na or acupuncture, to also work on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments’ soft tissues. Many chiropractors massage the back or warm up the area with various instruments to prepare the spine for chiropractic treatment.

We hope that this article helped you become more informed about Acupuncture and Recall Healing for neck and shoulder pain and other alternative treatment methods to address your condition. We wish you the best in your health.

Acupuncture for Shoulder & Neck Pain

Acupuncture for Shoulder & Neck Pain
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About the Author

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev, Doctor of Acupuncture Dr. Ac. Registered acupuncturist in Alberta, is the founder of Rebalance Acupuncture Edmonton. The name ReBalance comes from a combination of Recall Healing and Balance Method Acupuncture.

After practicing and teaching different types of alternative medicine over the last 20 years, Elad Shalev came to focus his work on the most effective methods from his experience. His search after healing methods that provide fast results in curing the symptoms while healing the root cause of the disease, led him to Balance method Acupuncture and Recall Healing.

The Rebalance acupuncture clinic is located in Edmonton, Canada. Online Recall Healing session are available - world wide.

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev, Doctor of Acupuncture Dr. Ac. Registered acupuncturist in Alberta, is the founder of Rebalance Acupuncture Edmonton. The name ReBalance comes from a combination of Recall Healing and Balance Method Acupuncture.

After practicing and teaching different types of alternative medicine over the last 20 years, Elad Shalev came to focus his work on the most effective methods from his experience. His search after healing methods that provide fast results in curing the symptoms while healing the root cause of the disease, led him to Balance method Acupuncture and Recall Healing.

The Rebalance acupuncture clinic is located in Edmonton, Canada. Online Recall Healing session are available - world wide.

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