top of page

Pain Management with Chinese Medicine

Anatomy and abnormalities of the neck and shoulder

The neck has seven cervical vertebrae (neck bone), which provide passages for blood vessels and nerves and attachment points for muscles.

The vertebrae support, balance and aid the movement of the head. Structural abnormalities, such as myofascial syndrome (muscle pain), spondylosis (degenerative wear and tearing of bone) and osteophytes (bone spurs) may cause symptoms such as stiffness in the neck and shoulders, headaches, radiating pain, tingling, numbness and weakness to the arms.


Such symptoms may also affect your sleep, concentration and even digestion. Neck pain may be a physical manifestation of psychological conditions such as depression too.

Manage your neck, lower back and shoulder pain with Chinese Medicine

Your lifestyle and habits are contributing to your pain.  Sitting for long periods of time, poor ergonomics and posture, lack of exercise and stretching, age-related degeneration and repetitive stress injuries are common causes of pain that can become chronic, thus affecting your quality of life.

Poor ergonomics and sedentary lifestyle habits: When sitting in front of a laptop or phone screen it is likely you unconsciously fall into poor posture and slump your shoulders inward while typing and bend your head and neck down to text on your phone. Your head weighs about 20 pounds, now image that amount of weight constantly placing stress on your neck and shoulders.

This inactivity and poor posture will cause the neck muscles to be fatigued, reduce blood circulation in the tissues and strain the musculoskeletal joints, thus causing the joints to “lock” in place causing pain and stiffness.

Emotional stress is also a common factor in neck and shoulder stiffness and pain. Constant stress can result in the sympathetic nervous system to be in a “flight or fight” mode; your body is always bracing itself in a “high alert” state getting ready to flee from a threat and danger which will cause the upper body, neck and shoulders to tense up. This can result in muscle spasms and lack of blood circulation and nutrition to the body’s tissues and in turn leads to stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulder.

How is pain understood through the lens of Chinese Medicine?

Pain is usually associated with:

  • Coldness (contracts muscles and causes them to be sore and “in knots”),

  • Dampness (causes swelling and soreness)

  • Deficiency (lead to degenerative changes)

  • Blood stasis and Qi stagnation (obstructs free flow of blood and qi, compromising circulation)

How can Chinese Medicine help me?

Our Chinese Medicine physician will give you a thorough consultation taking your medical history and employing the four diagnostic principles of inspection, auscultation, inquiry and palpation in order to determine a diagnosis; then identify the disease pattern that is present enabling our physician to create an appropriate treatment plan for you.

Chinese Medicine employs a holistic approach to pain management that activates your self-healing abilities by bringing you back into a state of functional homeostasis (balance).  This is achieved through various treatment methods.  

They include but not limited to: acupuncture, acupressure, electromagnetic cupping, herbs or a combination of these modalities.

The treatment objective is to expel coldness to relax muscles, improve blood and qi circulation, expel dampness and disperse blood stasis and qi stagnation to reduce swelling and eliminate deficiency through nourishment to help with building strength.

How can acupuncture, herbs and electromagnetic cupping ease my pain?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific acupuncture points (acupoints) along the meridians (energy highway network) in the body. Through differential diagnosis,  a prescription of acupoints are selected and employed with various techniques to achieve the desired effects for pain relief. Stimulating these acupoints releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, and affecting the part of the brain that governs serotonin a key hormone that modulates the perception of pain, stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being and happiness; this hormone impacts the entire body and helps with sleeping, eating and digesting.

Acu needle illustration.png

Image: Pacific College of Oriental Medicine

The World Health Organisation has recognised that acupuncture has been proven, through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment for pain management.

Electromagnetic cupping uses vacuum cupping and electromagnetic stimulating functions to enhance qi and blood circulation, improve blood and tissue oxygenation, reduce acute and chronic inflammation, pain and stress on the body. 

Herbs are prescribed as herbal formulas (synergistic combination of herbs) based on differential diagnosis will help to promote qi and blood circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation and to support tissue recovery.

These treatments and prescriptions improve whole body circulation by unblocking the obstructed meridians to regain free flow of qi and blood to restore function and mobility (unjamming a congested traffic jam on the highway).

These treatments and prescriptions improve whole body circulation by unblocking the obstructed meridians to regain free flow of qi and blood to restore function and mobility (unjamming a congested traffic jam on the highway). 

types of pain.png
bottom of page