Research: ZHU and POLUS, Bet

Listed in Issue 87


ZHU and POLUS, Betta Health Medical Center, Chinese Medicine Unit, Chadstone, Victoria, Australia,, conducted a controlled trial of acupuncture for chronic neck pain.


In this single blind, controlled crossover study, the efficacy of traditional Chinese acupuncture as a treatment for chronic neck pain was evaluated.


29 volunteers with chronic neck pain were randomly assigned to two groups. Both groups received two phases of treatment with a washout period between the two phases. Group A (14 patients) received acupuncture in the first phase and a sham treatment in the second phase. Group B (15 patients) received the sham treatment in the first phase and acupuncture in the second phase. Acupuncture was individualized and consisted of nine sessions on both local and distal points. Manual twisting of needles was performed on all points plus strong electrical stimulation on distal points. Sham acupoints (lateral to the real) and weak electrical stimulation were used in the control groups. Comparison of subjective and objective measures between the two groups was made at baseline, after each treatment phase, after washout, and after a 16-week follow up. Subjective measures included pain intensity, duration each day, analgesic medication count, and Neck Disability Index (NDI). Objective measures consisted of neck range of motion (ROM) and pain threshold.


Both the real and sham treatments significantly reduced pain without significant difference between the two treatments according to the subjective measures. In the objective measures, there was no change from baseline in either group.


Further study is recommended with an increased sample size and longer baseline and washout periods.


ZhU XM, Polus B. A controlled trial on acupuncture for chronic neck pain. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 30 (1): 13-28, 2002.

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