“Nerve root” type of neck pain is Hong Kong’s signature illness. Due to prolonged periods of working with the head down in the office, use of cell phone, bad posture when sitting down, sport injuries or accidents could all cause chronic strain on the neck. These strains could cause injuries to the spinal joints or discs and the related soft tissue areas. These injuries then overstimulate or inure the cervical nerve, vertebral artery, cervical sympathetic nerve and even cervical spinal cord causing painful symptoms to manifest. Typical age of onset is around 30-60 years of age, mostly are chronic due to prolonged exposure. Younger patients often have spinal curvature problems such as scoliosis.
Patient always tells me “There’s a lot of pain in my neck, I cannot turn it. Especially when sleeping – it’s numbing and painful. I could feel my muscles are jumping. I could not sleep flat, only when sitting up. Even my shoulders are in pain. Numbing sensation runs through my fingers, it feels heavy, like there’s no sensation, I could barely move my hands.” After diagnosis, the cervical disc 3,4,5, and 6 have substantial pain and compression, when pressed down there were searing pain and radiating pain. The formal diagnosis is cervical compression on nerves causing inflammation and swollenness, generating pain and numbness in the arms, especially the thumbs, For treatment, acupuncture is the best way to reduce pain and swollenness, combined with tuina massage and spinal manipulation to adjust the misaligned discs in the spine. During treatment, we would use moderate force, acupuncturing needs to be extremely accurate, so that the patient may not feel any pain from the needles. It only takes one treatment to reduce pain and swollenness. For patient with numbness, treatment regime will take a bit longer. Orally the patient could take herbal formulation to increase blood circulation to alleviate pain, dampness and swollenness, calming the liver and easing the body’s energy could help improve sleep quality.