Master Tung's Points for Neck Pain
There are several groups of Tung's points for neck pain and they each work differently. The tai yang meridians can be very effective for neck pain and tend to get to the deeper levels of the neck muscles. Points on the small intestine meridian include 22.08 & 22.09, while points associated with the UB meridian include 77.01 - 77.04.
Points like 22.03 and 22.06 are often used for neck pain, but work on a more superficial level and are highly effective for acute conditions. Other Tung points for neck pain include the Three Weights (77.05, 77.06, 77.07), the 7 Tigers (77.26), and the points on the palm 22.01 & 22.02.
With so many groups of points to choose from, how do you determine which points will give you the best results? What do you do if your first group of points don't work? Do you know when 22.01 - 22.02 should be used instead of 22.03 and 22.06?
Myofascial lines or chains are similar to the meridians.
While 22.03 and 22.06 are often very good for treating acute neck pain, they are often less effective for chronic conditions. We can see from the image how these points are located on what is known as the Superficial Back Arm Line (SBAL).
Taking a myofascial chain perspective we can see how the points 22.08 and 22.09 are on a deeper level and will effect the levator scapulae and rhomboid muscles. With special needle technique and the addition of a third point distal to 22.08, we can have a good effect on bone related spinal conditions like osteoarthritis and bone spurs.
Neck Pain and the Tai Yang and Shao Yang Meridians
The Superficial Back Line (SBL) from Anatomy Trains by Tom Myers, Elsevier Publishing.
In a meridian systems approach to acupuncture such as practiced in the Balance Method and Tung style acupuncture, we begin our diagnosis by determining what meridians are symptomatic.
If neck pain is present at a point like UB 10, we may then select points on either of the tai yang meridians.
For pain at UB 10 we could use points like SI 3 or 22.08 & 22.09, since the small intestine and bladder meridians are both tai yang channels. This is the system one connection in the Balance Method. For pain at UB 10 we could also use points like UB 59, UB 60, or UB 62 as these are classically indicated for neck pain. In the Tung system the points 77.01 - 77.04 could also be used for pain in the UB 10 region. This approach of using the tai yang connections is very useful for many patterns of spinal pain, cervical spondylosis, and sciatica.
When pain is located at GB 20 rather than UB 10, traditional methods would dictate using san jiao points over small intestine points on the hand. For pain at GB 20 a good point prescription is Luo Zhen (22.03), SJ 3 (22.06) and SJ 5 - needled contra laterally. However, in some cases this will not work. As the triple warmer meridian is on the SBAL, points on this meridian will effect the trapezius. However, people may have pain at gallbladder 20 which is due to a deeper level disharmony.
Understanding the Different Levels
While the tai yang and shao yang connections are essential for acupuncturists to understand, it is also important to consider the myofasical levels when treating neck pain.
The image shows the two back arm lines called the Superficial Back Arm Line (SBAL) and the Deep Back Arm Line (DBAL). The SBAL includes the arm flexors, deltoids and trapezius. When we needle points on the hands and arms like 22.03, 22.06 and Triple Warmer 5, it will have an effect on the SBAL and trapezius muscle. This is likely why TW 5 is often used for pain at GB 20 and GB 21.
Similarly, the SI meridian is on the DBAL and needling points like SI 3, 22.08 and 22.09 will effect the deeper muscles below the trapezius. We can see from the image that the scapularis, rhomboids and levator scapulae are all located on the DBAL.
The SJ and LI meridians are both located on the SBAL and have many similar effects. Consider how LI 4, Ling Gu, SJ 3, 22.06 and SJ 5 are all very effective for headaches. Similarly, SJ 6 and 33.04 - 33.06 are indicated for constipation as are LI 4 and 33.01 - 33.03. The similarity in SJ and LI point functions is likely related to both of these meridians being located on the SBAL.
When treating neck pain it is important to consider which meridians are symptomatic, but it is also necessary to determine what muscles have trigger points, and if the vertebrae, discs or bones are involved in the pathology. When the the deeper levels of the muscles are involved, or if there are spinal disorders present, it is often best to focus on the SI meridian (DBAL) and the UB meridian (SBL). This is because points on these channels and myofascial chains will reach the deeper levels.
Learn more about the power of using Myofascial Lines with Master Tung's acupuncture points.
Neck Pain and the Clients Other Health Concerns
Neck pain is a common thing we see in our acupuncture clinics, and as we take a personalized approach to treatments, it is essential to do proper pattern identification. While zang-fu syndrome differentiation is one of the most common methods acupuncturists use, it is also important to consider the meridian systems approach such as used in the Balance Method.
We've been discussing the tai yang and shao yang meridians and how they relate to neck pain and myofascial levels. However, we also need to consider how the tai yang and shao yang channels connect to other meridians.
The tai yang channels connect to the shao yin and tai yin, and the shao yang connect to the shao yin and jue yin meridians. This may be represented graphically as:
UB - SI
LU - SP
The tai yang - tai yin pattern is often seen in clinic and occurs when neck pain, or lumbar and spinal pain, occurs with respiratory and / or digestive disorders.
UB - SI
KI - HT
In the tai yang - shao yin pattern neck pain occurs with symptoms and disharmonies in either of the shao yin organs.
Always ask your Patients about their Top 3 Health Concerns
Doing so Helps with Pattern Identification and Prioritizes Their Concerns
GB - SJ
LV - PC
The shao yang - jue yin pattern is very common for disorders of the neck and head. For neck pain at GB 20 which penetrates through to the eyes, this pattern represents the primary meridians to work with.
GB - SJ
HT - KI
In the shao yang - shao yin pattern pain at GB 20 and GB 21 will occur with a prevalence of heart and kidney imbalances. Kidney yin deficiency often leads to yang rising. Heart fire patterns connect to this too.
Neck Pain and Root Disharmonies
We began our discussion with distinguishing between tai yang and shao yang neck pain patterns. The images above show how the yang meridians connect to yin meridian pairs, and we can relate this to zang - fu patterns and the clients top three health concerns.
For a client with a top concern of neck pain in the urinary bladder meridian, and a secondary concern of bronchitis, we would want to select the tai yang - tai yin circuit for determine point selections. A point combination for a client like this could include points like 22.01, 22.02, LU 7, 33.13 and 33.14. Notice how the lung meridian points treat the neck pain and the secondary concern of bronchitis, and two or three of the above points could be enough to give them quick relief of both symptoms.
We may also choose to use SI 3 or 22.08 for the neck pain, but these points would have less effect on the lungs. By asking about the patients top three concerns, and understanding the meridian systems patterns, we can refine our point selections to using points on the lung meridian.
To learn more about meridian system patterns like this check out this page: Meridian Circuit Systems
To learn more about myofascial lines and how they relate to Tung's points visit: Tung's Points and Fasciae