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All living creatures work on energy and a smooth functioning of the different metabolic processes in the body. The energies or “prana/chi/qi” are of different kinds and have their own distinct path of flow and influence. Air energy is better known as the air we breathe and from younger days we learn in school books that air purifies the blood in the lungs. The nose, the windpipe are the pathways and the transfer of energy happens in the lungs, on the blood. This blood feeds/influences the health of each and every cell of the body. The points of influence are the nose and windpipe.
Similarly, there are subtle energies that have their own specific pathways called Meridians. These energies are also associated with special metabolic functions and better known by names that associate with the main organ in the line of their path. For example, digestive energies are associated with the Liver meridian that follows a distinct path in the full body. There are specific zones along this path that can influence the manner in which energy flows along these paths and change the metabolic process of that energy meridian.
These points of influence are called äcu-points’. Pressure applied along these points is referred to as Acupressure treatment”. When needles are used, it is called Acupuncture treatment. The manner in which the Acupuncturist will choose a group of points will stimulate or sedate the activity of toes energies. This will allow the body to regain better health.
The needles help to regulate the flow of energy. Acupuncture is an exact science and needles are inserted into the skin at the point of influence. The depth of insertion, kind of needle, selection of points, angle in which needles are inserted, depth of needle insertion, twisting/turning of the needle, duration of therapy, the frequency of treatment; all these will create a change in the metabolic energies of the body.
A lot of research is being done all over the world to find out how this system works and what it is best suited for. Some medical conditions are easily treated and some take time. Very good medical clinical data is published in leading medical journal regarding these studies. Acupuncture has proved to be very useful in pain management; detoxification; healing enhancement; stress relief; improve digestion and few other health issues. Pure Acupressure medical science claims it is useful for all kinds of health disorder; modern medical research is by and by being able to prove this slowly.
Typically, the process of an Acupuncture treatment will follow these steps:
The acupuncture points are located throughout your body, and at times, the points may be located far away from a pain-affected area. The process of treatment involves the following steps:
- Needle insertion
- Around five to 20 needles are utilized in typical acupuncture treatments.
- The needles are quite thin and do not cause much discomfort.
- Needle manipulation
- After the needle insertion, the needles are moved or twirled. Sometimes, in addition to insertion, heat or electric pulses is applied to the needles.
- Needle removal
- Commonly, the acupuncture needles are kept in place for around 20 to 45 minutes while the patient is relaxed in a lying down position.
The most important benefits of acupuncture are as follows:
- Reduces headache and migraines
- It is quite effective for the management of chronic headaches.
- Based on several studies and research, it has been proven that acupuncture is ideal for the treatment of migraine headaches.
- The strategically placed acupuncture needles help in relieving the symptoms of headache.
- Improves pain of various types
- Acupuncture is considered to be effective in dealing with pain, such as chronic back pain, neck pain, knee pain and arthritis pain.
- Helps in insomnia treatment
- Acupuncture is beneficial in reducing the various symptoms of insomnia and sleeplessness.
- It works better than medicines and herbs for treating insomnia.
- Moreover, the treatment is not associated with adverse side effects.
- Helps in improving cancer and chemotherapy recovery
- Studies state that acupuncture is effective in boosting your immunity and enhances the recovery rate of patients undergoing cancer treatment.
- It also increases your platelet count and prevents the death of healthy cells after undergoing a radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- It reduces the amount of pain involved in cancer treatment and improves your quality of life.
- The major side effect of chemotherapy includes nausea.
- Prevents cognitive decline
- Acupuncture is also effective in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
- The age-related cognitive decline symptoms that are caused because of a neutral response in certain areas of your brain are reduced by this treatment.
Acupuncture is also being successfully used to treat digestive disorders; hormone imbalances; stress and depression; bone healing; reducing inflammation; preventing to treating diabetes; overcome acidity; hair fall and many other diseases. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an acupuncturist.
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A sudden-onset (acute) bout of neck pain is common. Two out of three of us will have neck pain at some time in our lives. In most cases it is not due to a serious disease or neck problem and often the exact cause for the pain is not clear. This is called 'nonspecific neck pain'. Most are probably due to minor sprains or bad posture. Full recovery occurs in most cases. The usual advice is to keep the neck active. Painkillers are helpful until the pain eases. Persistent (chronic) pain develops in some cases, and further treatment may then be needed.
Understanding the neck
The back of the neck includes the cervical spine and the muscles and ligaments that surround and support it. The cervical spine is made up of seven bones called vertebrae.
- The first two are slightly different to the rest, as they attach the spine to the skull and allow the head to turn from side to side.
- The lower five cervical vertebrae are roughly cylindrical in shape - a bit like small tin cans - with bony projections.
The sides of the vertebrae are linked by small facet joints.
Between each of the vertebrae is a 'disc'. The discs are made of a tough fibrous outer layer and a softer gel-like inner part. The discs act as 'shock absorbers' and allow the spine to be flexible.
Strong ligaments attach to adjacent vertebrae to give extra support and strength. Various muscles attached to the spine enable the spine to bend and move in various ways. (The muscles and most ligaments are not shown in the diagram, for clarity.)
The spinal cord, which contains nervous tissue carrying messages to and from the brain, is protected by the spine. Nerves from the spinal cord come out from between the vertebrae in the neck to take and receive messages to the neck and arms. A major blood vessel called the vertebral artery also runs alongside the vertebrae to carry blood to the rear (posterior) part of the brain.
What are the types and causes of neck pain?
Neck pain is common. About 2 in 3 people develop a bout of neck pain at some time in their lives. One survey done in the UK found that, of adults aged 45-75 years, about 1 in 4 women and about 1 in 5 men had current neck pain. Types and causes of neck pain include:
Nonspecific neck pain
This is the most common type. This is sometimes called 'simple' or 'mechanical' neck pain. Often the exact cause or origin of the pain is not known. It may include minor strains and sprains to muscles or ligaments in the neck. Bad posture may also be a contributing factor in some cases. For example, neck pain is more common in people who spend much of their working day at a desk, with a 'bent-forward' posture.
A 'whiplash' jolt to the neck
This is most commonly due to an accident involving a vehicle, such as a car crash. It can cause neck pain. See separate leaflet called Whiplash Neck Sprain for details.
Sudden-onset (acute) torticollis
This is sometimes called 'wry neck'. A torticollis is when the head becomes twisted to one side and it is very painful to move the head back straight. The cause of acute primary torticollis is often not known.
However, it may be due to a minor strain or sprain to a muscle or ligament in the neck. Some cases may be due to certain muscles of the neck being exposed to cold ('sleeping in a draught'). It is common for people to go to bed feeling fine and to wake up the next morning with an acute torticollis. The pain usually eases and clears away over a few days without any treatment.
How can I tell if the pain is due to a more serious cause?
A doctor's assessment and examination can usually determine that a bout of neck pain is nonspecific and not due to a more serious cause. The following are the sort of symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem:
- If neck pain develops when you are ill with other problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, or cancer.
- If the pain becomes progressively worse.
- If some function of an arm is affected. For example, weakness or clumsiness of a hand or arm, or persistent loss of feeling (numbness). (As mentioned, some pins and needles may occur with nonspecific neck pain. However, this is mild and usually goes within four weeks.)
- If you feel generally unwell and have 'general' symptoms such as weight loss or a high temperature (fever).
- If the neck bones (vertebrae) are very tender (which may indicate a bone problem).
- If you develop any problems with walking or with passing urine.This may indicate problems with pressure on the spinal cord
Some other treatments which may be advised include:
- A good posture may help. Check that your sitting position at work or at the computer is not poor. (That is, not with your head flexed forward with a stooped back.) Sit upright. Yoga, pilates, and the Alexander Technique all improve neck posture, but their value in treating neck pain is uncertain.
- A firm supporting pillow seems to help some people when sleeping. Try not to use more than one pillow.
- Various treatments may be advised by a physiotherapist. These include traction, heat, cold, manipulation, etc. The value of each of these treatments is uncertain, as the results of research studies looking at which treatments work best can be conflicting.
- However, what is often most helpful is the advice a physiotherapist can give on neck exercises to do at home.
- A common situation is for a doctor to advise on painkillers and gentle neck exercises. If symptoms do not improve over a week or so, you may then be referred to a physiotherapist to help with pain relief and for advice on specific neck exercises.
Treatment may vary and you should go back to see a doctor:
- If the pain becomes worse.
- If the pain persists beyond 4-6 weeks.
- If other symptoms develop such as loss of feeling (numbness), weakness, or persistent pins and needles in part of an arm or hand, as described previously.
Other pain-relieving techniques may be tried if the pain becomes persistent (chronic). A pain management programme may be offered to help you control and live with your pain. Chronic neck pain is also sometimes associated with anxiety and depression which may also need to be treated.