The effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of persistent regional myofascial head and neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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The effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of persistent regional myofascial head and neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Complement Ther Med. 2020 Mar;49:102297

Authors: Farag AM, Malacarne A, Pagni SE, Maloney GE

Abstract
Persistent head and neck myofascial pain is among the most frequently reported pain complaints featuring major variability in treatment approaches and perception of improvement. Acupuncture is one of the least invasive complimentary modalities that can optimize conventional treatment. The aim of this review was to determine the evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in the management of localized persistent myofascial head and neck pain. Only randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) were included. The search was conducted in PubMed, Ovid Medline, Embase, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library in addition to manual search. The main outcome measure was the comparison of the mean pain intensity score on VAS between acupuncture and sham-needling/no intervention groups. Safety data and adherence rate were also investigated. Six RCTs were identified with variable risk of bias. All included studies reported reduction in VAS pain intensity scores in the groups receiving acupuncture when compared to sham needling/no intervention. Meta-analysis, using a weighted mean difference as the effect estimate, included only 4 RCTs, revealed a 19.04 point difference in pain intensity between acupuncture and sham-needling/no intervention (95 %CI: -29.13 to -8.95). High levels of safety were demonstrated by the low rates of side effects/withdrawal. Inconsistency in reporting of outcomes was a major limitation. In conclusion, moderate-quality evidence suggests that acupuncture may be an effective and safe method in relieving persistent head and neck myofascial pain. Optimizing study designs and standardizing outcome measures are needed for future RCTs.

PMID: 32147064 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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