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Back Pain & Osteoporosis

From the Current Issue

New Research:
Acupuncture Brings Long-Term Relief of Neck Pain

Most studies of acupuncture and chronic pain do not include long-term follow-up. Now a very small study suggests that acupuncture offers long-term relief of chronic neck and shoulder pain.

In the study, 24 female office workers with an average 12-year history of neck and shoulder pain were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a control group. Women in the treatment group received ten 45-minute acupuncture sessions three times per week, while those in the control group received “sham” sessions in which acupuncture was applied at body points thought to be of no therapeutic value. All patients rated their pain on a scale from 0 to 100.

At the end of the ten sessions, women in the treatment group had significantly greater reductions in pain scores than those in the control group (70% vs. 29%). Three years after the treatments, women in the treatment group still reported significantly greater reductions in pain than the controls (67% vs. 8%).

Mechanisms behind acupuncture's ability to soothe chronic pain remain unclear. However, “it may be that the acupuncture treatment led to a pain relief that helped the patients break a vicious cycle and thereby give a long-lasting effect,” the researchers speculate.

Volume 109, page 299
June 2004




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