Acupuncture has Long-Term Benefit for Chronic Neck Pain

Acupuncture for neck pain compares well to medication & usual care.
Researchers from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, have concluded that both acupuncture and Alexander technique significantly reduce neck pain and associated disability over a 12 month period when compared with usual care alone.

The study recruited 517 patients from GP practices in Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and York. Participants were randomly placed in one of three groups: one group was offered up to 20 half-hour lessons with an Alexander teacher plus usual care; another received up to 12 sessions of 50 minutes of acupuncture based on traditional Chinese medical theory with practitioners of the British Acupuncture Council plus usual care; and the third group received usual care alone. In all three groups, usual care included prescribed medications and visits to GPs, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals.

After 12 months, pain was reduced by 32% for those receiving acupuncture and 31% for those having Alexander lessons. When comparing Alexander lessons or acupuncture with usual care alone, these reductions were statistically significant. Moreover, patients in these two groups were found to be better able to cope without resorting to medication. Dr Hugh MacPherson, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences, said that we now have clear evidence that these two interventions provide longer-term benefits for chronic neck pain.

(Annals of Internal Medicine, 2 November 2015.)