A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how acupuncture can help computer users who suffer from the common problem of carpal tunnel syndrome. Well, unfortunately carpal tunnel is not the only complaint that results from sitting in front of a computer all day so, today I’m going to focus on a pain that is common to many but especially afflicts those who spend countless hours hunched over a computer -> Neck Pain.
Necks are in a particularly vulnerable position. Because of its range of motion and its position on the spine, our necks are more subject to injury than the rest of the spine. To make things worse, many people, even those who have good seating at their desktop computers, place their bodies in awkward positions when they use laptops.
Acupuncture is one great way to treat neck pain. In my office, I generally start with points located away from the neck. For example, there is a point on the wrist that is very effective for the type of neck pain that radiates from the neck to the top of the trapezius muscle. These distal points are often a quick and effective way of relieving painful or stiff necks. Other techniques I might use include needling the local area of the neck or tight muscles near the neck and upper back.
In addition to acupuncture, Chinese Medicine has other options for treating neck pain. Electric stimulation can be added to points to further decrease pain and increase muscle relaxation. Another effective tool is cupping. Cupping can be described as the reverse of a massage. Cups pull up the tissue in the affected area, relaxing the muscles and increasing the circulation (you can read more about cupping here). One thing to know about cupping is that although it is an ancient, effective treatment that often feels very good, you will probably be bruised afterwards. Generally, the bruises don’t hurt though they may be sore. I always recommend that my patients take an epsom salt bath after cupping because it works as an anti-inflammatory and can help prevent, or relieve, soreness.
No one is giving up their computer – me included. But we can pay attention to posture, good seating, and adequate lighting when we work. And even those precautions will not prevent occasional neck strain and soreness. When that happens, call your Chinese Medicine practitioner and get some help before your problem gets worse.