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Shila Mathew, MD

Board Certified Psychiatrist, Medical Acupuncture, Integrative Medicine

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Acupuncture Effective for Neck Pain

There is a fair amount of evidence that acupuncture can relieve chronic neck pain, according to a review of the most current scientific evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for neck pain.

Canadian researchers reported in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library (Issue 3, 2009) that acupuncture seems to work moderately well as an alternative to more traditional treatments for neck pain.

The researchers from McMaster University in Canada reviewed 10 trials that compared real acupuncture to fake or sham acupuncture, other sham or inactive treatments, or other active treatments such as massage therapy. The trials involved a total of 661 individuals with chronic neck pain lasting for at least three months.

Dr. Kien Trinh from McMaster University and colleagues found that, overall, people who received traditional Chinese acupuncture reported better pain relief immediately following acupuncture and in the short-term than those who received inactive acupuncture or other sham treatments. There were no serious side effects to acupuncture in the trials reviewed.

In a small study, people who received acupuncture had greater relief of pain than those who received massage therapy.

The research findings show that ideally there should be at least six or more acupuncture sessions for treating neck pain.

According to Reuters, between 26 percent and 71 percent of the adult population has suffered through at least one bout of neck pain or stiffness during their lifetime. For some, neck pain can last for months and negatively impact life and work.

(Source: Reuters and Medline Plus, July 2009)

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