Acupuncture and Neck Pain

acupuncture and neck pain

Acupuncture and Neck Pain

Physicians, now more than ever are recommending non-pharmacological treatment including massage, acupuncture and exercise as part of a multi-modal approach for patients suffering from neck pain.

Why are physicians promoting a non-pharmacological approach?

The reality is this - opioids have side effects are people are looking for alternative pain management strategies. Opioid-based painkillers are problematic for several reasons. Their efficacy wane over time and they have been linked to addiction and overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control has advised doctors to restrict their use (Frieden et al. 2016).

Acupuncture and Neck Pain

There is quite a bit of research suggesting that acupuncture/electro-acupuncture has therapeutic benefit for neck pain (Blanpied et al. 2017, Cerezo-Téllez et al. 2016Gerber et al. 2017Kjaer et al. 2017).

Acupuncture Mechanism of Action

Contextual effects, including positive expectations and reassurance contribute to the benefit of benefit acupuncture, but there is evidence to suggest that it is not limited to placebo (Vickers et al 2012).

There are a number of other potential mechanism of action based on a wide range of clinical trials published in reputable journals, done by researchers from reputable medical institutions.

If you look at the research on the biological mechanisms of action, acupuncture needles and dry needles are doing the same thing: providing a novel stimulus to the CNS which has effects on many neuroanatomical regions associated with pain.

Needle insertion stimulates nerve endings which can block nociceptive signaling according to gate-control theory, needle insertion also stimulates endogenous opioid release, purinergic signaling and modulation of the endocannibinoid system (Chen et al. 2017).

Talk to your local physicians about conservative treatment options

Therapists are uniquely suited to incorporate a number management strategies (exercise, education, acupuncture and manual therapy) to help decrease neck pain and increase function. Proper assessment and referrals are important to identify who is most likely to benefit from conservative treatments.

More to Explore

Blanpied, P.R., Gross, A.R., Elliott, J.M., Devaney, L.L., Clewley, D., Walton, D.M., Sparks, C., Robertson, E.K. (2017). Neck Pain: Revision 2017. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther

Boyles, R., Fowler, R., Ramsey, D., & Burrows, E. (2015). Effectiveness of trigger point dry needling for multiple body regions: A systematic review. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy.

Briggs, J.P., Shurtleff, D. (2017). Acupuncture and the Complex Connections Between the Mind and the Body. JAMA.

Busse, J.W., Craigie, S., Juurlink, D.N, ... Guyatt GH. (2017). Guideline for opioid therapy and chronic noncancer pain. CMAJ.

Cerezo-Téllez, E., Torres-Lacomba, M., Fuentes-Gallardo, I., Perez-Muñoz, M., Mayoral-Del-Moral, O., Lluch-Girbés, E., . . . Falla, D. (2016). Effectiveness of dry needling for chronic nonspecific neck pain. Pain.

Cerezo-Téllez, E., Lacomba, M. T., Fuentes-Gallardo, I., Moral, O. M., Rodrigo-Medina, B., & Ortega, C. G. (2016). Dry needling of the trapezius muscle in office workers with neck pain: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy.

Chen, L., Michalsen, A. (2017). Management of chronic pain using complementary and integrative medicine. BMJ.

Cho, J., Nam, D., Kim, K., & Lee, J. (2013). Acupuncture with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) versus acupuncture or NSAIDs alone for the treatment of chronic neck pain: An assessor-blinded randomised controlled pilot study. Acupuncture in Medicine.

Fontanarosa, P. B. (1998). Alternative Medicine Meets Science. JAMA.

Frieden, T. R., & Houry, D. (2016). Reducing the Risks of Relief — The CDC Opioid-Prescribing Guideline. New England Journal of Medicine.

Furlan, A. D., Yazdi, F., Tsertsvadze, A., Gross, A., Tulder, M. V., Santaguida, L., . . . Tsouros, S. (2012). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Efficacy, Cost-Effectiveness, and Safety of Selected Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Neck and Low-Back Pain. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Gerber, L. H., Sikdar, S., Aredo, J. V., Armstrong, K., Rosenberger, W. F., Shao, H., & Shah, J. P. (2017). Beneficial Effects of Dry Needling for Treatment of Chronic Myofascial Pain Persist for 6 Weeks After Treatment Completion. Pm&r.

Gerber, L. H., Shah, J., Rosenberger, W., Armstrong, K., Turo, D., Otto, P., . . . Sikdar, S. (2015). Dry Needling Alters Trigger Points in the Upper Trapezius Muscle and Reduces Pain in Subjects With Chronic Myofascial Pain. Pm&r

Kietrys, D. M., Palombaro, K. M., Azzaretto, E., Hubler, R., Schaller, B., Schlussel, J. M., & Tucker, M. (2013). Effectiveness of Dry Needling for Upper-Quarter Myofascial Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.

Kjaer, P., Kongsted, A., Hartvigsen, J., ... Povlsen, T.M. (2017). National clinical guidelines for non-surgical treatment of patients with recent onset neck pain or cervical radiculopathy. Eur Spine J.

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MacPherson, H., Vickers, A., Bland, M., Torgerson, D., Corbett, M., Spackman, E., ..., Watt, I. (2017). Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library.

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Pecos-Martín, D., Montañez-Aguilera, F. J., Gallego-Izquierdo, T., Urraca-Gesto, A., Gómez-Conesa, A., Romero-Franco, N., & Plaza-Manzano, G. (2015). Effectiveness of Dry Needling on the Lower Trapezius in Patients With Mechanical Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Trinh, K., Graham, N., Gross, A., Goldsmith, C., Wang, E., Cameron, I., & Kay, T. (2007). Acupuncture for Neck Disorders. Spine.

Turo, D., Otto, P., Hossain, M., Gebreab, T., Armstrong, K., Rosenberger, W. F., . . . Sikdar, S. (2015). Novel Use of Ultrasound Elastography to Quantify Muscle Tissue Changes After Dry Needling of Myofascial Trigger Points in Patients With Chronic Myofascial Pain. Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

Vickers, A. J., Cronin, A. M., Maschino, A. C., Lewith, G., Macpherson, H., Foster, N. E., . . . Collaboration, F. T. (2012). Acupuncture for Chronic Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine.

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