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Long-Term Acupuncture can Ease Chronic Neck Pain, Study Says

Update Date: Nov 03, 2015 05:14 PM EST

If you are dealing with chronic neck pain, it might be time to try these two alternative therapies.

According to a new study, acupuncture and the Alexander technique can be effective at relieving chronic neck pain. Acupuncture, which hails from Chinese medicine, involves inserting thin needles into specific points of the body. The Alexander technique involves learning about different ways to release tension from the body. Both therapies teach patients how to relieve stress on the body via posture and balance.

"In general, it is difficult to find long-term treatments that have a positive effect on chronic neck pain," the lead investigator Hugh MacPherson, who is with the department of health sciences at the University of York, said. "But, both acupuncture and the Alexander technique lessons did.

He added, "They could make changes in coping that didn't involve medication and they were able to apply what they learned in a way that made a difference."

For this study, the researchers recruited more than 500 patients from the United Kingdom who were dealing with neck pain. The patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups, which were traditional medication/physical therapy, acupuncture (12 sessions) and the Alexander technique (20 one-on-one lessons). Overall, each group received 600 minutes of treatment.

The researchers found that people from the two alternative therapy groups reported more pain relief - measured using a pain questionnaire - than people who took painkillers or received physical therapy. The researchers did not find any differences between acupuncture and the Alexander technique. They concluded that patients with chronic neck pain could choose either forms of therapy depending on costs, health insurance, accessibility and other factors.

"Patients should have conversations with their doctors about these methods," Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said reported by HealthDay. "It's something they should try."

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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