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Acupuncture for Chronic Neck Pain and Cervical Spondylopathy



Neck pain is a common clinical complaint, often stemming from various cervical spine disorders such as cervical spondylopathy (a general term for cervical spine degeneration), herniated cervical discs, neck injuries, dislocations, and soft tissue injuries like wry neck or trauma from car accidents. Symptoms vary depending on the affected cervical segment, with upper cervical disorders presenting as occipital pain and lower cervical issues manifesting as neck, shoulder, or arm pain.


Cervical spondylopathy, also known as cervical osteoarthritis, frequently leads to cervical radiculopathy, where patients experience not only limited neck movement and neck pain but also radiating pain in the shoulder, arm, the outer side of the forearm, and numbness in the fingers. Acupuncture has shown notable effectiveness in treating these nerve root symptoms caused by cervical spondylopathy and herniated cervical discs.


In cases of chronic neck and arm pain or finger numbness due to degenerative changes (osteoarthritis) or herniated discs in the cervical spine, acupuncture typically provides symptomatic relief rather than altering the existing structural changes in the spine. This is evident as pre- and post-treatment X-rays generally show no change. However, this also implies that clinical symptoms are mainly due to local soft tissue inflammation and edema compressing the spinal nerve roots. The underlying spinal pathology likely creates a susceptible environment prone to injury during everyday neck movements. This can explain why the degree of degenerative changes in the cervical spine often does not correlate with clinical symptoms. Acupuncture effectively alleviates these symptoms through its anti-inflammatory effects and by promoting local microcirculation, thereby eliminating local inflammatory stimuli.


In conclusion, acupuncture offers a valuable therapeutic option for managing chronic neck pain and symptoms associated with cervical spondylopathy. While it may not reverse structural changes in the cervical spine, it can significantly alleviate pain and improve quality of life for patients suffering from these conditions. This approach underscores the importance of considering both structural and soft tissue components in the treatment of cervical spine disorders.

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