A patient came to see me for chronic neck pain and emotional stress and is an interesting example of how 2 styles of acupuncture can be used to treat both the symptoms and the cause of a problem. In Chinese medicine, disease is classified as having a root (the cause) and a branch (the symptoms), metaphors from nature are often used to help conceptualise the approach to medicine.

The branch of the disease is usually the most visible and distressing for people and in this case was manifesting as chronically tight muscles, tendons and joints in the neck. The root of the issue was in an emotional imbalance resulting in repeated feelings of frustration and anger which in turn caused the sinews and muscles to tighten and become restricted. This type of emotional imbalance (or stress in western terms) is very common and often manifests in tightness in the neck and shoulder region. The repeated anger and frustration also led to state of energy stagnation and lots of internal heat, a bit like a car trying to accelerate away with the handbrake locked on.

The treatment approach was to start to clear the affected area (the branch) of stagnant blood and fluids, to clear heat and relax the muscles. A combination of Chinese cupping and distal acupuncture was used to start the process. In tandem, Five Element points were used to address the root of the problem – anger and frustration. This resulted in a dramatic improvement in both the physical and the emotional well-being of the patient in a relatively short period of time. The patient comes to see me from time to time for top up and rebalancing treatments as needed.


“I have had neck and shoulder pain for years and someone mentioned having acupuncture. I have had four sessions of acupuncture with James and I am pain free. I also feel so much better in myself. James is very professional, and I cannot recommend him enough.”