Jim Galbiati, M.Ac.
Five Element Acupuncture

1350 Pine Street
Suite 3
Boulder, CO 80302

Acupuncture Research: Neck pain

Coan R, Wong G and Coan PL (1982)
The acupuncture treatment of neck pain: a randomized controlled study,
Amerj Chin Med 9:326-332

Type of Study: A combined course of acupuncture and electroacupuncture was compared to no treatment (wait-listed controls) for the alleviation of neck pain.

Research Design: Thirty patients with chronic neck pain of multiple etiologies (8 years mean duration) were randomly assigned either to receive acupuncture or be placed on a wait-list for delayed treatment. Acupuncture was administered according to the judgments of the acupuncturists - point selection and treatment schedule were determined on the basis of each patient's diagnosis. Manual and electroacupuncture techniques were used according to need. Pain levels, pain duration, limitation of activity and use of pain medication were assessed for both groups at enrollment into the study and again at approximately 12 weeks post-enrollment.

Results: Patients were comparable at baseline. At the post-treatment assessment the acupuncture patients showed the following improvements compared to baseline: 68% decrease in mean hours of pain; 40% decrease in mean pain score; 32% decrease in mean limitation of activity; 54% decrease in pain medication consumption. By comparison the wait-listed patients showed 0% change in hours of pain; 2% decrease in pain score; 12% change in limitation of activity and 10% decrease in pain medication consumption. Further, 80% of the acupuncture patients reported improvement versus 13% of the wait-listed patients.

Conclusion: The findings demonstrate distinct treatment effects of acupuncture and electroacupuncture for chronic neck pain, under conditions, i.e. individualized treatment plans, that are consistent with standard acupuncture practice.

Petrie JP and Langley GB (1983)
Acupuncture in the treatment of chronic cervical pain: a pilot study,
Clin Exp Rheumatol 1: 333-336

Type of Study: Acupuncture was compared to mock stimulation with a disconnected TFNS unit for treatment of chronic neck pain.

Research Design: Thirteen patients with chronic neck pain of at least 2 years duration were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture or placebo treatment. All patients were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or ankylosing spondylosis, and had been unresponsive to previous courses of physiotherapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Acupuncture was administered twice weekly for 4 weeks at one midline and two bilateral points. Placebo treatment consisted of a disconnected TENS unit that appeared to be functional, also administered twice a week for 4 weeks. Pain was assessed at baseline on a descriptive 3 point scale and after treatment on a 5 point scale.

Results: Patients in the two groups were comparable at baseline. Patients treated with acupuncture showed a significantly greater amount of pain relief than those treated with placebo TENS.

These findings indicate that acupuncture performs better than placebo for treatment of degenerative neck disorders, and represents an especially useful therapy for patients whose conditions have failed to respond to standard treatment approaches.

Loy TT (1983)
Treatment of cervical spondylosis - electroacupuncture versus physiotherapy,
MedJ Australia 2:32-34

Type of Study: Electroacupuncture was compared to physiotherapy for treatment of cervical spondylosis (degenerative joint disease affecting vertebrae, disks and surrounding connective tissue).

Research Design: Sixty patients with cervical spondylosis were assigned to receive either electroacupuncture or physiotherapy. Electroacupuncture, applied via needles at 2 to 6 points, was administered 3 times a week for 18 sessions. Physiotherapy involved the use of short-wave diathermy and intermittent mechanized neck-halter traction, administered 3 times a week for 18 sessions. Range of motion was assessed using a goniometer at 3 weeks and 6 weeks (end of treatment). At the 3rd and 6th week each patient was also asked to assess the degree of change that they had experienced.

Results: Range of motion was found to increase in the electroacupuncture group but not the physiotherapy group, with greater changes at 3 than 6 weeks. While the physiotherapy group showed an overall small decrease in range of motion, the electroacupuncture group showed an improvement of 12 or more degrees in each range of motion. The subjective assessment of overall change also reflected a greater benefit from electroacupuncture than from physiotherapy. At 3 weeks these two groups had improved 67% versus 31%, respectively, and at 6 weeks 87% versus 54%, respectively.

These findings indicate a marked benefit from using acupuncture for the treatment of the pain and dysfunction associated with cervical spondylosis. Acupuncture clearly outperformed the physiotherapy employed in this study.

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