Acupuncture for Chronic Neck Pain
Chronic neck pain is a prevalent problem in general practice and conventional treatments have limited success. Patients are seeking acupuncture outside the NHS in increasing numbers, yet the current evidence on acupuncture for neck pain is inconclusive. As a result, there is a growing public and scientific imperative to know whether acupuncture is worth offering as a referral option in primary care.
Our plan has been to conduct an open pragmatic randomised controlled trial of acupuncture for patients with neck pain, in order to design a trial that will evaluate the clinical and economic impact when provided as an adjunct to normal GP management. As well as informing decisions made by patients and general practitioners, the knowledge gained on cost-effectiveness will contribute to policy decisions on access to acupuncture within primary care.
We first conducted a pilot project, led by Gemma Salter, an MRC funded MSc student at the University of York. For the pilot we recruited 24 patients and provided those randomised to acupuncture with 10 sessions of acupuncture. A paper outlining the findings in the context of designing and conducting a large scale trial has been published.(Salter et al 2006)[Free full text]
On the back of our pilot research, we were funded by Arthritis Research UK to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture and Alexander Technique lessons in alleviating chronic neck pain. Although acupuncture and Alexander Technique lessons are frequently used by people with chronic neck pain, neither is widely available on the NHS.
In this three and a half year trial, 517 people with chronic neck pain have been recruited from 33 GP practices. Patients will be recruited in York, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester and their progress was followed over a 12 month-period. At all time points we found both acupuncture and Alexander Technique to be associated with statistically significantly reduced pain when compared to conventional medical care. In part this was explained by improved self-efficacy in terms of better strategies for reducing pain levels without resorting to medication. This project was funded by a grant of £719,000 from Arthritis Research UK. For further details, see [Abstract] [Arthritis Today].
MacPherson H, Tilbrook H, Richmond S, Woodman J, Ballard K, Atkin K, Bland M, Eldred J, Essex H, Hewitt C, Hopton A, Keding A, Lansdown H, Parrott S, Torgerson D, Wenham A, Watt I. Alexander Technique Lessons or Acupuncture Sessions for Persons With Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Nov 3;163(9):653-62. doi: 10.7326/M15-0667.[Abstract]
MacPherson H, Tilbrook HE, Richmond SJ, Atkin K, Ballard K, Bland M, et al. Alexander Technique Lessons, Acupuncture Sessions or usual care for patients with chronic neck pain (ATLAS): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 2013 Jul 10;14(1):209.[Free full text]
Salter G, Roman M, MacPherson H. Acupuncture for chronic neck pain: a pilot for a randomised controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2006. 7(1):99. [Free full text]
- Journal articles
- Edited books
- Acupuncture for chronic pain (ATC)
- Acupuncture & Counselling for Depression Project (ACUDep)
- Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (AcIBS)
- Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis of the Knee (OAK)
- Acupuncture & Alexander Technique for Chronic Neck Pain
- Mapping the practice of acupuncture in the UK
- Scoping Study on Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Mechanisms in the management of back pain
- Acupuncture for Back Pain Project (YacBac)
- Acupuncture for Non-cardiac Chest Pain
- Acupuncture Safety Projects
- Chinese Herbs Safety Project
- Neuroimaging of Acupuncture Projects
- Media and press