Does acupuncture provide a genuine and medically-proven treatment for long-term neck pain? A team of researchers from the University of Southampton hope to carry out the first ever large-scale, comprehensive and rigorous study into the use of acupuncture to treat this condition.
Dr George Lewith of University Medicine explains: ‘Acupuncture is widely used therapeutically in the management of chronic muscular and joint conditions including chronic mechanical neck pain. Despite its widespread use, no adequately
comprehensive study to assess its effectiveness has ever been carried out.’ The Southampton team aim to rectify this omission by undertaking a properly-controlled, rigorous randomised clinical trial. They will be testing the hypothesis that acupuncture provides significant benefit for patients with respect to their pain, overall ability to function normally and general well-being. They hope to recruit over 150 patients from the Hampshire region to take part in the study.
‘We will be looking for volunteers aged between 18 and 80 who have suffered from mechanical neck pain for more than three months and are still experiencing pain and dysfunction. We aim to conduct a thorough investigation, therefore the study period for each patient will be three months,’ says Dr Lewith. In the first week, each volunteer will be fully examined and a series of baseline measurements will be taken. They will then have a five-week treatment with some being given placebo, control therapy and others getting the ‘real’ acupuncture, followed by a seven-week follow-up period.
‘The study has been rigorously designed and critically reviewed by medical professionals. The follow-up period will provide the essential feedback to ensure that our results take into consideration the fullest range of factors possible. We aim to provide the first clinically-sound evidence for or against the use of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic mechanical neck pain,’ concludes Dr George Lewith.
For further information
Dr George Lewith, University Medicine (01703 794594)
Dr Ifeanyi Uwechue or Sarah Watts, Public Affairs, University of Southampton (01703 592114)
University of Southampton. September 1998.