Chill that grabs you by the neck

Health Beauty | Wong Pui-man 26 Sep 2017

Hongkongers have a computer-centric lifestyle, causing them to be plagued with pains in the neck and shoulder.

Those who work and sleep long hours in air-conditioned rooms are more prone to a stiff neck. A stiff neck is usually a result of muscle spasm when your nerves send messages to your muscles that cause them to contract.

A few days ago, a patient made an urgent appointment at my new clinic, seeking medical attention to treat his stiff neck after he woke in the morning. He could only turn his neck sideways a little.

There are many causes of neck pain, including muscle strain, overexertion, as well as poor sitting and sleeping posture. In most cases, pains in the neck and shoulder region can dissipate within a few days.

But in some cases the neck pain can be persistent - and may be caused by inflammation of meninges around the brain, cervical spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In his case, the sudden pain in his neck was likely caused by coldness that made his neck muscle shrink. It's not surprising, as the patient has a nine-to-five office job that has him sitting long hours under the air-conditioning.

In the summer months, he turns the air-conditioner on at home for more than 10 hours, even when sleeping at night. We humans have a slightly lower body temperature when we are sleeping so exposing ourselves to the chill of the air- conditioner while asleep will make us more prone to getting a "coldness" into our body.

Some people will feel pain and some just feel muscle tension. When the muscle gets stiff to the point that you cannot relax it by yourself, you may need help from acupuncture or massage.

There are three acupuncture points that you can try to press. The first one is SI-11, which is located at the middle of the scapula. Another one is TE-5, lateral side of our forearm, three fingers width from the wrist and in the middle of our ulnar and radial bone.

When pressing this point, you can move your head gently and slowly. Move it up, down and to the side. But it must be done gently and slowly.

The third one is SI-3. This is at the lateral side of our little finger and between finger and the palm.

Apart from acupuncture, I've also asked him to set a timer for the air- conditioning when he goes to bed, to avoid exposing himself to the "coldness" at night.

Of course, regular outdoor exercise and stretching can help prevent neck and shoulder pain as they help us expel the coldness in our body, and stretch our muscles.

o Wong Pui-man is a Hong Kong- registered Chinese medicine practitioner with a Bachelor of Chinese Medicine degree from Hong Kong Baptist University. CandyWongAcupuncture

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