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Acupuncture for Neck Disorders

Trinh, Kien, MD, MSc*; Graham, Nadine, BA, BHScPT; Gross, Anita, MSc, BScPT; Goldsmith, Charlie, PhD; Wang, Ellen, PhD§; Cameron, Ian, MD§; Kay, Theresa, MHSc, BHScPT

doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000252100.61002.d4
Cochrane Collaboration

Study Design. Systematic review.

Objective. To determine the effects of acupuncture for individuals with neck pain.

Summary of Background Data. Neck pain is one of the 3 most frequently reported complaints of the musculoskeletal system. Treatments for neck pain are varied, as are the perceptions of benefits.

Methods. We searched CENTRAL (2006, issue 1) and MEDLINE, EMBASE, MANTIS, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature from their beginning to February 2006. We searched reference lists and the acupuncture database TCMLARS in China. Any published trials using randomized (RCT) or quasi-randomized (quasi-RCT) assignment to the intervention groups, either in full text or abstract form, were included.

Results. We found 10 trials that examined acupuncture treatments for chronic neck pain. Overall, methodologic quality had a mean of 2.3 of 5 on the Jadad scale. For chronic mechanical neck disorders, there was moderate evidence that acupuncture was more effective for pain relief than some types of sham controls, measured immediately posttreatment. There was moderate evidence that acupuncture was more effective than inactive, sham treatments measured immediately posttreatment, and at short-term follow-up (pooled standardized mean difference, −0.37; 95% confidence interval, −0.61 to −0.12). There was limited evidence that acupuncture was more effective than massage at short-term follow-up. For chronic neck disorders with radicular symptoms, there was moderate evidence that acupuncture was more effective than a wait-list control at short-term follow-up.

Conclusions. There is moderate evidence that acupuncture relieves pain better than some sham treatments, measured at the end of the treatment. There is moderate evidence that those who received acupuncture reported less pain at short-term follow-up than those on a waiting list. There is also moderate evidence that acupuncture is more effective than inactive treatments for relieving pain posttreatment, and this is maintained at short-term follow-up.

This review summarizes the most current scientific evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic neck pain. There is moderate evidence that acupuncture relieves pain better than some sham treatments, measured at the end of the treatment, and inactive treatments for relieving pain posttreatment and at short-term follow-up.

From the *DeGroote School of Medicine, Office of MD Admissions, †School of Rehabilitation Science, and ‡Centre for Evaluation of Medicines, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario Canada; §Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW Australia; and ∥Physiotherapy Services, Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre, North York, Ontario, Canada.

Supported by McMaster University, School of Medicine (Canada), Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Muller and Trauma Programs (Canada), University of Iowa Health Care (U.S.), Immicom Computers, Burlington (Ontario, Canada), and University of Sydney (Australia), Consortial Center for Chiropractic Research (U.S.), and Hamilton Hospital Association (Canada).

The legal regulatory status of the device(s)/drug(s) that is/are the subject of this manuscript is not applicable in my country.

Federal and Institutional funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

Potential conflict of interest: The use of raters from diverse professional backgrounds [sport medicine physician, rheumatologist, occupational health physician, physiatrist, statistician, physiotherapist, manual therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist] should serve to limit any conflict of interest during the review process.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Kien Trinh, MD, BSc, MSc, PhD (Cand), FRSS, DeGroote School of Medicine, Office of MD Admissions, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, MDCL-3112, Hamilton, Ontario Canada, L8N 3Z5; E-mail: trinhk@mcmaster.ca

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.