Randomised trial of trigger point acupuncture compared with other acupuncture for treatment of chronic neck pain

Itoh, K., Katsumi, Y., Hirota, S. and Kitakoji, H.

Some evidence exists for the efficacy of acupuncture in chronic neck pain (CNP), but it is unclear as to which acupuncture modes are most effective.  This study aimed to evaluate the trigger point acupuncture on pain and quality of life (QoL) in CNP patients, compared to three other acupuncture treatments (acupoints, non-trigger point and sham treatment).

40 outpatients were recruited to the study (29 women, 11 men, age range 47-80) with non radiating CNP for at least 6 months, in the absence of abnormal neurological signs.  These were then randomised to one of four groups over 13 weeks.  Each group then received two phases of acupuncture treatment with an interval between them.  The acupint group received treatment at traditional acupoints for neck pain, the trigger point, and non trigger point groups received treatment at tenderness points for the same muscle, while the other acupuncture group received sham treatments on the trigger point.

After treatment the trigger point group reported less pain intensity and improves QoL compared with the standard acupuncture or non trigger point group.  There was significant reduction in pain intensity between the treatment and the interval for the trigger point group, but not for the standard acupuncture or non trigger point group.

This study concludes that trigger point acupuncture therapy may be more effective on chronic neck pain in older patients than standard acupuncture therapy.

Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2007) 15:3 172-179

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Neck Pain

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.

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