Back and neck pain are important health problems with serious societal and economic implications. Conventional treatments have been shown to have limited benefit in improving patient outcomes. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies offer additional options in the management of low back and neck pain. Many trials evaluating CAM therapies have poor quality and inconsistent results. To systematically review the efficacy, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and harms of acupuncture, spinal manipulation, mobilization, and massage techniques in management of back, neck, and/or thoracic pain. MEDLINE, Cochrane Central, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CINAHL, and EMBASE were searched up to 2010; unpublished literature and reference lists of relevant articles were also searched. study selection: All records were screened by two independent reviewers. Primary reports of comparative efficacy, effectiveness, harms, and/or economic evaluations from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the CAM therapies in adults (age ≥ 18 years) with back, neck, or thoracic pain were eligible. Non-randomized controlled trials and observational studies (case-control, cohort, cross-sectional) comparing harms were also included. Reviews, case reports, editorials, commentaries or letters were excluded. Two independent reviewers using a predefined form extracted data on study, participants, treatments, and outcome characteristics. 265 RCTs and 5 non-RCTs were included. Acupuncture for chronic nonspecific low back pain was associated with significantly lower pain intensity than placebo but only immediately post-treatment (VAS: -0.59, 95 percent CI: -0.93, -0.25). However, acupuncture was not different from placebo in post-treatment disability, pain medication intake, or global improvement in chronic nonspecific low back pain. Acupuncture did not differ from sham-acupuncture in reducing chronic non-specific neck pain immediately after treatment (VAS: 0.24, 95 percent CI: -1.20, 0.73). Acupuncture was superior to no treatment in improving pain intensity (VAS: -1.19, 95 percent CI: 95 percent CI: -2.17, -0.21), disability (PDI), functioning (HFAQ), well-being (SF-36), and range of mobility (extension, flexion), immediately after the treatment. In general, trials that applied sham-acupuncture tended to produce negative results (i.e., statistically non-significant) compared to trials that applied other types of placebo (e.g., TENS, medication, laser). Results regarding comparisons with other active treatments (pain medication, mobilization, laser therapy) were less consistent Acupuncture was more cost-effective compared to usual care or no treatment for patients with chronic back pain. For both low back and neck pain, manipulation was significantly better than placebo or no treatment in reducing pain immediately or short-term after the end of treatment.
|Number of pages||764|
|Journal||Evidence report/technology assessment|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2010|