Neck & Shoulder Pain Management

Manage your neck & shoulder pain with TCM

Sedentary lifestyles, age-related degeneration and repetitive stress injuries are common causes of pain that can become chronic, thus affecting your quality of life.

According to a study conducted by Singapore General Hospital, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a common complaint among office workers in Singapore, with 73% reporting experiencing pain in at least one body part, namely neck (46%), shoulder (42%) and lower back (42%). With Singaporeans increasingly employed in desk-bound roles, finding ways to improve posture and manage pain is key to living well and pain-free.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an option that may offer a solution.

Many of them also have poor posture, and tend to slump their shoulders inward as they type, with their heads in awkward positions.

This inactivity and poor posture can 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.

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, mostly affecting the upper body, neck and shoulders. 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.

Anatomy & Abnormalities of Neck

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 condition such as depression too.

How can TCM help me?

First, patients need to understand that pain is usually associated with:

  • Coldness (which contracts muscles and causes them to be sore and “in knots”),
  • Dampness (which causes swelling and soreness), and
  • Deficiency (which lead to degenerative changes).

Typically, a TCM physician collects medical history and data through four diagnostic principles of inspection, Olfactory and auscultation, inquiry and palpation in order to determine a diagnosis that will enable the physician to formulate a treatment plan for a patient.

Treatment is in the form of oral herbal medication, topical plasters, cupping, acupuncture or Tuina (therapeutic massage), or a combination of these.

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

TCM is a holistic approach that believes an individual has self-recovery abilities. The treatment methods are supplementary measures to accelerate this process.

What can oral herbal medication do for me?

The herbs prescribed can help to promote smooth circulation, reduce swelling and inflammation, and to support tissue recovery.

How can acupuncture, cupping and Tuina ease my condition?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-like needles into specific acupoints along the meridians (channels) on the body. Through the right selection of acupoints and manipulation of the needles, a physician can achieve the desired effects.

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

Cupping and Tuina have similar properties and the physician can advise their use based on the type and severity of conditions.

These treatments and prescriptions also unclog the obstructed meridians and enable the herbs to permeate into the affected areas, all with the aim of reducing pain and regaining your smile.

Acupoint Location Properties
Feng Chi GB20 (风池)
Located at the base of skull, 2 finger-widths from the midline, depression points where neck muscles attach to the skull. Expel Wind. Relieve neck and shoulder pain, tension headaches and migraine.
Jian Jing GB21 (肩井)
Located directly above the nipple, on the mid-line of the shoulder trapezius muscle. Relieve tight shoulder and stiff neck, as well as occipital headache.
Hou Xi SI3 (后溪)
Clench your fist, located at the palm crease on the little finger side, where the palm-finger joint is. Expel Wind. Relieve neck and shoulder pain, lower back ache, tension headaches and migraine.

Type of Pain Characteristics Representative prescription
Cold Inability to achieve full range of motion. Stiffness and pain that exacerbates during cold and reduces with hot application. Pain is usually localized. Kudzu Decoction
Dampness Dull soreness with heavy sensation, inability to achieve full range of motion. Pain that exacerbates during rainy and damp weather. Notopterygium Decoction
Deficient Age-related degenerative conditions, chronic pain with inability to achieve full range of motion, aversion to cold, weight loss, limb and lumbar weakness. Angelica Pubescens& Mulberry Mistletoe Stem Decoction

Article by Physician Lee Jin Shun of Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic at Bedok and Hougang and Eu Yan Sang TCM Wellness Clinic at Plaza Singapura.

Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of medical condition. You are encouraged to seek professional medical advice for any medical condition or treatment with your healthcare provider. Pregnant women are strongly advised not to attempt any of the mentioned treatment methods without first speaking to your healthcare provider.

Perk alert!

If you’d like to try TCM for pain management, now’s the time!

Simply quote “PM-NS” at participating Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic to enjoy a session of consultation and acupuncture for $40* nett.

*Terms and conditions:

  • Valid from 7 Aug 2018 to 31 Oct.
  • Valid for new patients and existing patients whose last visit was more than 12 months ago (i.e. before 7 Aug 2017).
  • Limited to one redemption per patient.
  • Subject to physician’s diagnosis to determine patient’s eligibility.
  • Not applicable for consultation with senior physicians. Please call the clinic to check on availability.
  • Not applicable at Eu Yan Sang Premier TCM Centres and sessional clinics.
  • Not applicable for Eu Yan Sang Needleless Acupuncture.
  • Not applicable with any other discount voucher, promotion, discount, package, privilege card, corporate plan or managed care plan.
  • Eu Yan Sang Clinic Management reserves the right of final decision in the event of any disputes.

Participating Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinics and Wellness Clinics:

  • Ang Mo Kio – 6451 4977
  • Bedok MRT Station – 6242 2205
  • Bukit Batok – 6397 4782
  • Bukit Panjang Plaza – 6766 5234
  • Chinatown – 6223 5085
  • Clementi Mall – 6774 5178
  • Eastpoint Mall – 6785 9159
  • Hougang Mall – 6385 5969
  • Jurong JEM Mall – 6684 5677
  • Plaza Singapura – 6238 1801
  • Punggol Waterway Point – 6875 7004
  • Royal Square @ Novena – 6266 6339
  • Sembawang – 6556 4528
  • Sengkang Compass One – 6283 6761
  • Serangoon NEX Mall – 6634 8042
  • Tampines Century Square – 6783 6911
  • Tiong Bahru Plaza – 6278 6348
  • Woodlands MRT Station – 6365 6518

For more details, kindly call the clinic hotline at 1800 225 1887.


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