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Acupuncture Alleviates Neck Pain, Restores ROM

Acupuncture and herbs alleviate cervical spondylosis, a disorder caused by disc degeneration in the neck that results in pain and range of motion impairment. Hubei University of Medicine Dongfeng Hospital researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with herbs successfully relieves pain and regulates excess sympathetic nervous system outflows for patients with cervical spondylosis. [1] Other improvements were also observed, including reductions in dizziness, palpitations, and neck dysfunction. 

Common presentations of cervical spondylosis are neck and shoulder pain, numbness, hypersensitivity, and impaired fine motor function of the arms. However, cervical spondylosis is also a cause of symptoms relating to spinal cord compression or dysfunction. These symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, nausea, palpitations, poor memory, and abdominal discomfort. [2]

It has also been suggested that increased sympathetic nervous system outflows due to compression of the cervical spinal cord region could put cervical spondylosis sufferers at an increased risk of cardiovascular events. [3] Blood viscosity is also a predictor of cardiovascular events, with increased viscosity increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The study documents that the acupuncture and herbal medicine regimen reduces blood viscosity, which may produce important cardiovascular benefits.

Chinese Medicine The researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial using the scientific method. To provide a historical basis for the herbs and acupuncture points chosen for the study, the researchers presented Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles used for the selections. Cervical spondylosis is a disorder primarily belonging to the Du Mai (Governing Vessel) and Taiyang channels. Understood in anatomical terms, this correlates to the spine and paraspinal regions of the body.

TCM principles stipulate that an underlying deficiency of upright qi leaves cervical spondylosis patients vulnerable to pathogenic invasion by wind, cold, and dampness. This correlates to the conceptualisation that internal weakness facilitates greater vulnerability to wear and tear along with other stresses on the human body, including environmental influences. The result is pain in the back and neck region. Acupuncture is applied to improve local blood circulation, relax the musculature, relieve spasms, and reduce inflammation and swelling (especially in the region of nerve roots).

Results We’ll take a close look at the herbs and acupuncture points used to get the results. First, let’s delve into the outcomes. The subjective component of outcomes was determined using the visual analog scale (VAS) for pain and speed of resolution of other symptoms. Objective measurements include the quantification of blood viscosity.

VAS scores were rated by the patients in two study groups on a scale of 0–10, with 0 indicating a total absence of pain. By the end of the study period, both groups showed a significant reduction in pain (p<0.05). In the herbal medicine monotherapy group, mean VAS scores reduced from 6.91 pre-treatment to 2.86 by the end of the study. Reductions in the acupuncture plus herbs group were significantly greater, falling from 6.89 pre-treatment to just 1.22 by the end of the study (p<0.05).

Resolution of other symptoms such as dizziness, neck dysfunction, chest distress, and palpitations was also monitored closely. In the herbal medicine monotherapy group, dizziness took a mean 12.82 days to resolve, compared with just 7.89 days in the acupuncture plus herbs group. Neck dysfunction took a mean 13.79 days to resolve in the herbal medicine monotherapy group, compared with 9.41 days in the acupuncture plus herbs group. Chest distress and palpitations resolved in a mean 9.88 days in the herbal medicine monotherapy group, compared with 6.94 in the acupuncture plus herbs group. All symptoms resolved significantly and more quickly in the acupuncture plus herbs group (p<0.05). The results indicate that a combined