Alexander technique and acupuncture can produce significant reductions in neck pain. [Photo: Bigstock]

Chronic neck pain eased by alternative treatments

4 November, 2015

Natural Health News — New evidence shows that both Alexander Technique and acupuncture can significantly relieve chronic neck pain.

Chronic neck pain is a difficult condition to treat, and previous research shows that single interventions generally do not provide long term benefits. However in a large scale trial, researchers from the University of York concluded that two complementary therapies –  Alexander Technique and acupuncture – reduced pain and associated disability over a 12 month period when compared with usual care alone.

What you need to know

» Chronic neck pain can be hard to treat and often does not respond to single treatments.

» New evidence shows that Alexander Technique or acupuncture are effective treatment for this condition.

» Results showed that the reduction in pain from these therapies was significantly more than usual care such as physiotherapy and medication.

Comparing treatments

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, recruited 517 patients from GP practices in Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and York.

Participants were randomly placed in three groups: one group was offered up to 20 half-hour lessons with teachers from the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique plus usual care; another received up to 12 sessions of 50 minutes of acupuncture based on traditional Chinese medical theory with practitioners of the British Acupuncture Council plus usual care; and the third and final group received usual care alone.

In all three groups, usual care included prescribed medications and visits to GPs, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals.

Significant improvements

The research showed that at 12 months, pain was reduced by 32% for those receiving acupuncture and 31% for those undertaking Alexander Technique lessons (for comparison 25% is a clinically relevant reduction).

Compared to usual care alone, these reductions were found to be statistically significant. Moreover, patients in these two groups were found to be better able to cope or reduce their pain levels without resorting to medication.

Dr Hugh MacPherson, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences at York, said: “Our key finding is that there are significant reductions in neck pain associated with Alexander Technique lessons and acupuncture at 12 months. This is an important finding because for the first time we now have clear evidence that these two interventions provide longer-term benefits for chronic neck pain.”