26 March 2019
Cupping therapy could be beneficial in certain ways but it is unrelated to treating bone spurs. Photo: CNSA
Cupping therapy could be beneficial in certain ways but it is unrelated to treating bone spurs. Photo: CNSA

Stiff neck and numb hands

Some of my patients who have had stiff neck and experienced numbness in their hands and fingers had some unpleasant or even bad treatments before they came to see me.

A 23-year-old female patient who is an office worker often complained about neck and shoulder pain.

In cooler weather, she would wake up with a stiff neck, a headache and tingling fingers.

She should have visited a licensed medical professional.

However, she was referred by a friend to an “expert” who claims expertise in easing neck pain. The clinic was in a residential unit.

There, the expert checked her neck and told her she had some bone spurs. She was then advised to have an X-ray which actually confirmed his theory.

There were 17 spurs, the expert said, and suggested 17 sessions to remove them by cupping therapy.

In the first session, the expert did cupping, pressed her neck with force and applied some unknown herb paste to the area for eight hours. She was also prescribed some herbal drinks to take home.

Soon after, she developed skin rashes, bruises and worse — severe neck pain. That’s when she found her way to my clinic.

I first need to explain that cupping won’t remove bone spurs.

Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are pointy lumps that grow on the bones of the spine or around joints.

Due to the unusual pressure between bones, or between bones and cartilages, the newly grown bone on the margins is sharpened as spurs.

That said, what the expert did was nonsense. Bone spurs are not something to be picked away or to be dissolved by external application of herb paste.

I took a thorough examination of the young lady’s neck and discovering that she had an upper-  cervical dislocation, a straightened neck curve, and bone spurs in spinal segments C5-C6 and C6-C7, which pressed on to the surrounding nerves, resulting in neck pain, headache and numbness in the hands.

And since the weather was cooler, her muscles became more tense even at rest. Poor sleeping posture plus the wrong pillow height caused her a stiff neck, which worsened her condition.

After three sessions of chiropractic treatments, the symptoms — neck pain, headache and numbness in the hands — had been mostly gone.

The upper-cervical dislocation had been corrected.

As for her neck curve and bone spurs, she would need further treatment.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 4

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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