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Glendale, CA 91206
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Effects of Acupuncture on Neck Pain

Posted on: 02/22/2007
Does acupuncture work to relieve neck pain? Canadian researchers reviewed the results of 10 studies on the effects of acupuncture for cervical (neck) pain patients.

Acupuncture is the insertion of tiny needles along pathways called meridians. Certain points are stimulated to alter pain messages to the brain. In each of these studies, acupuncture was used in one group of patients.

A second (control or comparison) group was treated with pretend acupuncture or some other form of real or mock treatment. Some patients were on a waiting list and did not get any treatment. All patients had chronic mechanical neck disorders. This included whiplash disorders, degenerative changes, and muscular pain.

Results were measured in terms of pain levels, activity level, and patient satisfaction. The authors report the following:
  • Acupuncture was better than some types of sham treatments
  • There was no difference between acupuncture and mobilization
  • Acupuncture was better than massage
  • Acupuncture was better than inactive treatment (sham laser or sham electrical
  • Acupuncture gave better pain relief than waiting without treatment

    Many of the studies were considered low quality. Evidence presented here was labeled moderate. Moderate evidence was defined as studies with single, high quality random controlled trials or multiple, low quality trials. The benefits of acupuncture were short-term but significant.

    The authors suggest acupuncture is a relatively safe treatment. Patients should receive at least six (or more) acupuncture sessions. More study is needed before other recommendations can be made. The studies need to be large and consistently compare the same treatment procedures.

  • References:
    Kien Trinh, MD, MSc, et al. Acupuncture for Neck Disorders. In Spine. January 15, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 2. Pp. 236-243.

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