Randomized Controlled Trials of Acupuncture for Neck Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
The objectives of this study were to assess the effectiveness and efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of neck pain.
The following computerized databases were searched from their inception to January 2008: MEDLINE (PubMed), ALT HEALTH WATCH (EBSCO), CINAHL, and Cochrane Central.
Systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted on randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for neck pain. Two (2) reviewers independently extracted data concerning study characteristics, methods, and outcomes, as well as performed quality assessment based on the adapted criteria of Jadad.
Fourteen (14) studies were included in this review. Meta-analysis was performed only in the absence of statistically significant heterogeneity among studies that were selected for testing a specific clinical hypothesis. While only a single meta-analysis was done in previous reviews, this review performed nine meta-analyses addressing different clinical issues. Seven out of nine meta-analyses yielded positive results. In particular, the meta-analysis based on the primary outcome of short-term pain reduction found that acupuncture was more effective than the control in the treatment of neck pain, with a pooled standardized mean difference (SMD) of -0.45 (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.69 to -0.22). Moreover, the meta-analysis with a pooled SMD of -0.53 (95% CI, -0.94 to -0.11) showed that acupuncture was significantly more effective than sham acupuncture for pain relief. However, there was limited evidence based on the qualitative analysis of the trial data to support the above conclusions. We provided a detailed analysis on the issue of heterogeneity of the studies involved in meta-analysis and examined the consistencies and inconsistencies among the present review and two other reviews conducted previously.
The quantitative meta-analysis conducted in this review confirmed the short-term effectiveness and efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of neck pain. Further studies that address the long-term efficacy of acupuncture for neck pain are warranted.
Available from: Edzard Ernst
- "This review failed to show any beneficial effects of acupuncture for several types of neck pain. Other reviews are outdated [13, 14, 16, 18]. Currently available guidelines for the management of neck pain or WAD do not include acupuncture as a treatment [19, 20] or include it only in combination with manual and physical therapies and exercise [21, 22]. "
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ABSTRACT: The aim of this systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of whiplash associated disorder (WAD). Twenty databases were searched from their inceptions to Oct. 2013. Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of acupuncture (AT), electroacupuncture (EA), or dry needling (DN) for the treatment of WAD were considered eligible. The risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane tool. Six RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Most of the included RCTs have serious methodological flaws. Four of the RCTs showed effectiveness of AT, AT in addition to usual care (UC), AT in addition to herbal medicine (HM) or EA was more effective than relaxation, sham EA, sham EA in addition to HM or UC for conditioned pain modulation (CPM) and alleviating pain. In one RCT, DN in addition to physiotherapy (PT) had no effect compared to sham-DN in addition to PT for the reduction of pain. None of the RCTs showed that AT/EA/DN was more effective than various types of control groups in reducing disability/function. One RCT did not report between-group comparisons of any outcome measures. The evidence for the effectiveness of AT/EA/DN for the treatment of WAD is limited. Therefore, more research in this area is warranted.
Available from: Cindy Crawford
- "Serious adverse events (that is, injury to brain/spinal cord, pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, systemic infection, syncope) have been reported but are extremely rare . Of the 52 reviews included in our analyses, 29 [63,70,71,73,74,76-79,84,85,90,92,93,95,98-105,107-111,113] reported on adverse events with six [53,62,70,73,84,93,95] reviews reporting no adverse events. Twelve reviews [74,76,85,90,92,98,101-105] reported expected, likely adverse events, and four reviews [63,70,78,111] reported that adverse events occurred but did not describe them. "
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Co-morbid symptoms (for example, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and fatigue) are particularly common in military fighters returning from the current conflicts, who have experienced physical and/or psychological trauma. These overlapping conditions cut across the boundaries of mind, brain and body, resulting in a common symptomatic and functional spectrum of physical, cognitive, psychological and behavioral effects referred to as the ‘Trauma Spectrum Response’ (TSR). While acupuncture has been shown to treat some of these components effectively, the current literature is often difficult to interpret, inconsistent or of variable quality. Thus, to gauge comprehensively the effectiveness of acupuncture across TSR components, a systematic review of reviews was conducted using the Samueli Institute’s Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature (REAL©) methodology.
PubMed/MEDLINE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PsycInfo were searched from inception to September 2011 for systematic reviews/meta-analyses. Quality assessment was rigorously performed using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN 50) checklist and the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology. Adherence to the Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials in Acupuncture (STRICTA) criteria was also assessed.
Of the 1,480 citations identified by our searches, 52 systematic reviews/meta-analyses, all high quality except for one, met inclusion criteria for each TSR component except post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sexual function. The majority of reviews addressed most STRICTA components, but did not describe safety.
Based on the results of our review, acupuncture appears to be effective for treating headaches and, although more research is needed, seems to be a promising treatment option for anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression and chronic pain. It does not, however, demonstrate any substantial treatment benefit for substance abuse. Because there were no reviews on PTSD or sexual function that met our pre-defined inclusion criteria, we cannot comment on acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating these conditions. More quality data are also needed to determine whether acupuncture is appropriate for treating fatigue or cognitive difficulties. Further, while acupuncture has been shown to be generally safe, safety was not described in the majority of studies, making it difficult to provide any strong recommendations. Future research should address safety reporting in detail in order to increase our confidence in acupuncture’s efficacy across the identified TSR components.
Available from: Edzard Ernst
- "UK A Myofascial trigger point pain 23 Variable Direct needling of myofascial trigger points appears to be an effective treatment Good + Fu USA A Neck pain 14 Variable Confirm short-term effectiveness and efficacy. . . Good + Trinh Canada A Neck pain 10 Variable . . "
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ABSTRACT: Acupuncture is commonly used for pain control, but doubts about its effectiveness and safety remain. This review was aimed at critically evaluating systematic reviews of acupuncture as a treatment of pain and at summarizing reports of serious adverse effects published since 2000. Literature searches were carried out in 11 databases without language restrictions. Systematic reviews were considered for the evaluation of effectiveness and case series or case reports for summarizing adverse events. Data were extracted according to predefined criteria. Fifty-seven systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria. Four were of excellent methodological quality. Numerous contradictions and caveats emerged. Unanimously positive conclusions from more than one high-quality systematic review existed only for neck pain. Ninety-five cases of severe adverse effects including 5 fatalities were included. Pneumothorax and infections were the most frequently reported adverse effects. In conclusion, numerous systematic reviews have generated little truly convincing evidence that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain. Serious adverse effects continue to be reported. Numerous reviews have produced little convincing evidence that acupuncture is effective in reducing pain. Serious adverse events, including deaths, continue to be reported.
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