Acupuncture Brings Long-Term Relief of Neck
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
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