Neck pain is an exceedingly common problem that affects up to two-thirds of the population at some point in their lives. It can stem from numerous causes – poor posture, injuries, arthritis, and more. While treatments like pain medication, heating pads, and physical therapy have their place in managing neck pain, activating pressure points may provide additional relief.
Pressure points are specific spots on the body that correspond to different muscles, organs, and nerves. Applying pressure to these points is thought to help unblock energy flow and relieve pain in the corresponding area. Using pressure points for neck pain provides a drug-free way to find reprieve from chronic discomfort. Understanding the origins of neck pain guides you to the appropriate pressure points for finding relief.
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain typically arises from three key structures – the cervical vertebrae, cervical discs, and cervical muscles. Compression, inflammation, or strain in any of these areas can lead to the discomfort, tightness, and soreness characterized as neck pain. Pinpointing the specific origin guides you to target the most effective pressure points.
Vertebrae-Related Neck Pain
The cervical vertebrae form the structure of the neck, allowing flexibility and motion. Issues like bone spurs, arthritis, fractures, and whiplash injuries can cause the vertebrae to impinge upon nerves, creating localized neck pain. Activating pressure points around the vertebral areas brings circulation to tense muscles while signaling the brain to release pain-dulling endorphins.
Disc-Related Neck Pain
Between each vertebrae lies a gel-filled disc that prevents friction and absorbs shock. Bulging or herniated discs press upon nerves, leading to inflammation and radicular pain down the arms. Applying pressure redirects attention away from the irritated nerves while prompting the body to reduce inflammation.
Muscle-Related Neck Pain
The neck contains many small muscles essential for head movement and stability. Overuse, awkward positions, and poor posture overworks these muscles, causing painful spasms and stiffness. Trigger point therapy to the scalene, suboccipital, and upper trapezius muscles applies pressure to relax tight bundles and knots.
Each origin requires a targeted approach for pressure point relief. Understanding both the cause and location guides you through an effective session.
Location of Pressure Points for Neck Pain
Many traditional pressure points used in practices like acupressure and reflexology concentrate around the upper back, shoulders, and neck area. Using your own hands, pressure point tools, or massage from a partner applies firm but gentle pressure to bring relief. Useful pressure points and techniques include:
GB20 – The Gallbladder 20 point lies right below the base of the skull. Using two fingers or thumbs, slowly apply pressure in an upward motion just beside the two vertical neck muscles. Spend up to a minute activating this point on both sides.
GB21 – Progressing downward from GB20, find the Gallbladder 21 point in the muscle between the neck and tops of the shoulders. Apply gentle pressure in circular motions to ease tension.
SI 11 – On the outer shoulder near where the upper arm meets the joint, the Small Intestine 11 point sits in the center of thick muscle. Use knuckles or elbows to compress and relax the surrounding area.
SI 14 – Pressure to the Small Intestine 14 point on the outer shoulder soothes upper back tension leading to neck pain relief. Use palms, fists, or pressure point tools to gently lean into the area for support.
SI 15 – Lateral to the C7 vertebrae, the Shoulder Bone point provides pain relief with downwardpressure. Massage gently using thumbs or massage tools.
BL 10 – Under the base of the skull lies the Bladder 10 point. Firm pressure redirects “stagnant” energy to help provide pain relief.
LI 4 – Although not located directly on the neck, the Large Intestine 4 point between the thumb and forefinger addresses whole body pain relief. Massage both hands at once using pressure point tools.
Integrating Pressure Points into Treatment
An effective pressure point session need not take long. Targeting 2-4 points on both sides of the body for just 30-60 seconds per point provides immense relief from neck pain. Repeat daily or as discomfort arises. Pairing pressure points with gentle stretching further breaks up muscular tension.
While pressure points shouldn’t replace medical intervention, they provide a safe, low-cost adjunct for pain relief. When performed correctly, few risks exist. Those with medical conditions, nerve damage, or sensitivities should modify techniques as needed. Pay attention to pain levels and avoid activating bruised or damaged areas.
Consistency remains key when utilizing pressure points for pain relief. Notice overall patterns as to which points elicit responses so you can replicate therapy daily. Keeping a pain journal documents changes over time so you know which pressure points work best.
Whether your neck pain stems from repetitive stress or intense injury, pressure points tapping into ancient healing traditions offer respite. Understanding both anatomical contributors and energy pathways guide you through an appropriate routine without overdoing it. Be patient as pressure points take repetition to make progress. Over time, a daily self-massage ritual reduces the frequency and severity of painful neck tightness.