Time magazine: People who practiced acupuncture or the Alexander Technique had greater pain reductions than those who got standard treatment
Two alternative therapies get a boost of scientific legitimacy in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Acupuncture, the ancient practice of needle insertion, and the Alexander Technique, a program that teaches people how to avoid unnecessary muscle tension throughout the day and improve posture, coordination, balance and stress, are two complementary therapies often used to help treat neck pain. Treating it is often difficult, and it’s common for people to seek out alternative therapies.
The researchers wanted to see how well two of these worked. They assigned 517 people, all of whom had neck pain for at least three months (and sometimes many years), to the standard care for neck pain, which involves prescription medications and physical therapy. Some of the patients were assigned to also receive one of two extra treatments: a dozen 50-minute acupuncture sessions or 20 private Alexander Technique lessons—which focus on teaching people how to move their body to avoid or correct muscular pain.
A year after the start of the study, people in the groups doing acupuncture and the Alexander Technique had significant reductions in neck pain—pain was assessed by questionnaire—compared to those who just got usual care. Both groups reported about 32% less pain than they had at the start of the study, which is far greater than the 9% typically associated with physical therapy and exercise. The interventions also gave people in the groups more self-efficacy, which were linked to better pain outcomes.