Neck pain according to Chinese Medicine

Neck pain can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like neck pain here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here neck pain is often associated with fever, runny nose and sneezing in the pattern “Damp-Cold”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of neck pain we’ve identified that a herbal formula called Wei Ling Tang can help treat the patterns behind the symptom.

Damp-Cold, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause neck pain

In Chinese Medicine neck pain is a symptom for the pattern "Damp-Cold". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wei Ling Tang, a formula used for Damp-Cold


Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi), Soggy (Ru)

In addition to neck pain, other symptoms associated with Damp-Cold include fever, runny nose and sneezing.

Damp-Cold is often treated with Wei Ling Tang, a herbal formula made of 9 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wei Ling Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination".

Read more about Damp-Cold here

A herbal formula that might help with neck pain

Wei Ling Tang

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Drains Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wei Ling Tang help with neck pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Cold' of which neck pain is a symptom.

Read more about Wei Ling Tang here

Acupuncture points used for neck pain

The two Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat neck pain

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with neck pain?

Because it is a key herb in Wei Ling Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Cold' (a pattern with neck pain as a symptom)

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Why might Black Atractylodes Rhizome (Cang Zhu) help with neck pain?

Because it is a key herb in Wei Ling Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Cold' (a pattern with neck pain as a symptom)

Black Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Dries Damp and tonifies the Spleen. Relieves the Exterior for invasion of Wind-Cold-Damp. Relieves Wind-Damp painful obstruction. Dries Damp for either Damp-Cold or Damp-Heat when combined with the correct herbs. Clears the eyes and improves sight.

Read more about Black Atractylodes Rhizomes here