Long needle acupuncture, electroacupuncture and Xiaoxingnao acupuncture show positive treatment outcomes for both cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylotic radiculopathy.
Two recent research studies find acupuncture a highly effective and flexible method for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylotic radiculopathy (neck spinal and soft tissue degeneration causing nerve impingement and subsequent pain or numbness). One study from Xindu District Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine found long needle acupuncture to be highly effective for the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. Another from Tianjin University of TCM determined that electroacupuncture treatment in combination with Xiaoxingnao acupuncture produces significant patient outcomes.
In the first study, researchers Xie et al. (Xindu District Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conducted a scientific investigation of long needle acupuncture compared with conventional acupuncture for the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. The results demonstrate that long needle acupuncture produces superior patient outcomes. Let’s take a look at the advanced procedures that produced the results. Please keep in mind that the following procedures are only appropriate for licensed acupuncturists trained in these expert techniques and procedures.
Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy is a common disease that usually affects patients between the ages of 25 and 65 years old. It is mainly caused by bone hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the intervertebral discs, vertebral joints and facet joints. Consequently, the corresponding spinal nerve roots and other nerve roots are compressed or damaged. The main symptoms of this condition include neck, shoulder, back, upper limb, and finger pain, numbness, radiculopathy, or limb and finger weakness (Yang et al., 2012).
Long needle acupuncture accelerates qi and blood circulation in the meridians and also facilitates communication between the yin and yang meridians or between multiple acupoints. For this reason, it is appropriate for the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. The study found that long needle acupuncture demonstrates a higher efficacy rate than conventional acupuncture for the treatment of this condition.
A total of 126 patients with cervical spondylotic radiculopathy were selected for the study. They were divided into two groups: treatment group (64 patients), control group (62 patients). The treatment group underwent long needle acupuncture whereas the control group underwent conventional acupuncture treatment. Identical primary acupoints were selected for both therapies: neck Jiaji acupoints and traditional Hua Tuo Jiaji acupoints. These acupoints run in two parallel lines on either side of the spinal column and the Governing Vessel meridian, 0.5–1 cun lateral to the spinous process of each vertebrae. They function to stimulate the nerve segment corresponding to their specific locations.
For the long needle acupuncture treatment, a 3 inch acupuncture needle was held with both hands and inserted into each acupoint. For the neck Jiaji acupoints, the long needle was pointed downwards and inserted towards the seventh cervical vertebra. Upon insertion, either the Ping Bu Ping Xie (gently reinforcing and reducing) or the Xie (reducing) needle manipulation technique was applied. Needle techniques were selected depending upon the individual patient’s clinical symptoms. One acupuncture session was conducted daily for 20 days in total, in two cycles of 10 consecutive days, with a 1 to 2-day break between each cycle.
For conventional acupuncture, a 1.5 inch filiform needle was inserted into each acupoint, angled toward the midline. Upon insertion, either the Ping Bu Ping Xie or the Xie needle manipulation technique was applied, depending upon the individual patient’s clinical symptoms. One acupuncture session was conducted daily for 20 days in total, in two cycles of 10 consecutive days, with a 1 to 2 day break between each cycle. The patients receiving long needle acupuncture achieved a 95.3% total treatment effective rate, while those who received conventional acupuncture achieved an 80.6% rate. The results of this study indicate that long needle acupuncture is highly effective in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy, showing greater improvements in symptoms than conventional acupuncture.
In the second study, researchers Gong and Xue (Tianjin University of TCM) found that Xiaoxingnao acupuncture (a specialized acupuncture technique which effectively dredges meridians, improves blood circulation and refreshes the mind) combined with electroacupuncture on the cervical Jiaji acupoints is effective for the treatment of Vertebral artery cervical spondylosis. Vertebral artery cervical spondylosis arises from arterial oppression or damage from mechanical and dynamic factors. This leads to stenosis, which eventually decreases blood supply to the vertebral basilar artery. The main symptoms of vertebral artery cervical spondylosis include: neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, headache, cataplexy, optical conditions (e.g., fogged vision, dark spots, transient amaurosis, temporary vision defects, degenerated vision, ambiopia, visual hallucinations, blindness). In addition, bulbar paralysis and other neurological symptoms may be observed including slurred speech, dysphagia, pharyngeal reflex, choking due to backflow while drinking water, palatoplegia, voice hoarseness or facial paralysis.
The study involved a total of 60 patients with vertebral artery cervical spondylosis. They were divided into two equal groups of 30: the treatment group and the control group. Patients in the treatment group were treated with a combination of Xiaoxingnao acupuncture therapy with electroacupuncture. The control group patients received pharmaceutical medications. The clinical results of this study demonstrate that combining electroacupuncture and Xiaoxingnao acupuncture yields significantly better treatment outcomes than medications. Primary acupoints selected for the treatment group’s therapy were the following:
Cervical Jiaji acupoints
Fengchi, Fengfu and Tianzhu acupoints were selected for their ability to reduce muscule spasms, regulate autonomic nerve functions, dilate blood vessels and improve blood supply to the brain. Wangu was selected for the treatment of headaches and neck pain. Dazhui was selected to facilitate blood flow. Finally, the cervical Jiaji acupoints were selected as local points to dredge the affected meridians (Deng et al., 2008). For the Fengchi, Fengfu, Tianzhu and Wangu acupoints, the needles were inserted 1.5 – 2 inches deep, toward the Adam’s apple. Acupoints were manipulated by rotating in small turns at a high frequency. For the Dazhui acupoint, multiple needles were inserted in various directions: upward, downward, to the left, to the right and perpendicularly (until the patient felt a sensation radiating toward the shoulder).
The cervical Jiaji acupoints were inserted perpendicularly to a depth of 1.5 – 2 inches. An electroacupuncture device was connected to the needles at the cervical Jiaji acupoints, set at 2 – 10 Hz with disperse-dense waves. Additional secondary acupoints were selected on an individual symptomatic basis as follows:
For phlegm and dampness retention:
For phlegm and blood stasis:
For accumulation of dampness and heat:
For blood deficiency:
For all secondary acupoints, the Ping Bu Ping Xie needle manipulation technique was applied. After needle insertion and manipulation, a needle retention time of 20 minutes was observed. One 20 minute acupuncture session was conducted daily for 2 consecutive weeks.
Patients taking medications received intravenous infusions including mannitol and safflower extract injections in addition to medications to promote blood circulation, nourish nerves, and energize the body. The medications were administered once daily for 2 consecutive weeks. The results of this study showed that patients who underwent combined Xiaoxingnao acupuncture and electroacupuncture achieved an excellent total treatment effective rate of 93.3%, while those who received conventional medications plus infusions achieved a 76.7% total treatment effective rate.
The two aforementioned clinical studies demonstrate that different types of acupuncture have varying efficacy rates for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. Electroacupuncture and Xiaoxingnao acupuncture were more effective than medications. Long needle acupuncture produced greater positive patient outcomes than conventional acupuncture. This reflects the dynamic nature of acupuncture and its flexibility for the treatment of these common conditions.
Xie XY, Qing S, Liao JK, Xiao Y, Liu JQ. (2013). Clinical Efficacy of Long Needle Penetration Acupuncture on Cervical Spondylotic Radiculopathy: A Clinical Observation of 64 Cases. Guiding Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology. 7(7).
Yang JX, Yu JC, Zhang JP et al. (2012). Triple Jiao acupuncture in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. Chinese General Practice. 15(25): 2963-2965.
Gong XL, Xue YY. (2014). Clinical Observation of Xiaoxingnao acupuncture Combined with Electroacupuncture at Cervical Jiaji Points in Treatment of Vertebral Artery Type of Cervical Spondylosis.
Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine. 16(5).
Deng LX, Wu XP, Huang W, Wu QK & Jiang GD. (2008). Electroacupuncture in treating vertebral artery type of cervical spondylosis. Journal of Hubei College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1.
Original article from:
Acupuncture relieves neck pain and improves range of motion. Chen et al. find acupuncture effective in alleviating cervical spondylosis, a painful disorder caused by intervertebral disc degeneration. Zeng et al. conclude that acupuncture alleviates cervical spondylosis and radiculopathy. The data demonstrates that acupuncture is more effective than NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Zhou et al. find acupuncture effective for the alleviation of pain after surgery to the cervical spine. Li et al. conclude that acupuncture plus herbal medicine is effective for the relief of spasmodic torticollis, a disorder wherein the head becomes turned to one side, often due to painful muscle spasms. Liu et al. find acupuncture plus herbs effective for the relief of neck and shoulder pain. Neck points with sitting style technique are applied.
Let’s take a look at each one of these discoveries. Chen et al. measured the effects of acupuncture on cervical spondylosis. Their findings indicate that a combination of auricular acupuncture with body style acupuncture is more effective than body style acupuncture as a standalone procedure.
Body style acupuncture combined with auricular acupuncture yielded the following results
26.67% significantly effective
Body style only acupuncture yielded the following results
50% significantly effective
Recovery was defined as: asymptomatic, muscular strength returned to normal, neck and limb function returned to normal, patient can return to normal work life and carry out more labor intensive activities. Significantly effective was defined as: mitigation of overall symptoms, neck and limb functional improvement, less pain of the neck, shoulder, and back.
Participants received acupuncture every other day for a total of ten sessions of care. Auricular acupuncture, also known as ear acupuncture, was applied to the intersecting region of the thoracic and cervical spine area on the outer ear. The needle was threaded subcutaneously through the cervical spine area. Needle retention time was thirty minutes and manual stimulation was applied 2 – 3 times during needle retention with 5 – 7 rotations each time.
Body style acupuncture was applied to acupoints including
Jiaji (2 – 3 cervical points, affected side)
Mild reinforcing and reducing techniques were applied to elicit deqi. Needle retention time was thirty minutes, timed from the arrival of deqi. The researchers conclude that auricular acupuncture combined with body style acupuncture is highly effective in the treatment of cervical spondylosis.
The findings are consistent with those of Zeng et al. whose research at the Guangzhou Dongsheng Hospital finds acupuncture plus herbs effective for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and related radiculopathy. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) group receiving both acupuncture and herbs had a 96.67% total effective rate. The control group received pharmaceutical medications and had an 83.33% total effective rate.
The control group received an NSAID (diclofenac) and mecobalamin (a form of B12). Diclofenac was administered in 75 mg doses, once per day. B12 was administered in 0.5 mg doses, three times per day. The drugs were administered for twenty days.
The primary acupuncture points used for the treatment group were
Jiaji (4 – 6 points)
Supplementary acupoints were added based on diagnostic parameters. For yangming meridian pain or numbness, the following were added
For shaoyang meridian pain or numbness the following secondary acupoints were applied
For pain or numbness of the taiyang meridian the researchers added Houxi (SI3). Manual stimulation was applied to acupoints until the arrival of deqi. Next, electroacupuncture was applied to 3 – 4 acupoints with a continuous wave. Intensity was set to tolerance levels. Additional manual techniques were applied to 1 – 2 spots of localized pain using the green dragon tail sweeping method. Needle retention time was thirty minutes per acupuncture session. A total of twenty acupuncture treatments were applied at a rate of once per day.
Herbal medicine was decocted in water and was administered orally once in the morning and also at night for twenty days. The formula included
Gui Zhi 15 g
Ge Gen 30 g
Bai Shao 15 g
Dan Shen 30 g
Yan Hu Suo 15 g
Fang Feng 10 g
Xu Duan 12 g
Dang Gui 10 g
Gan Cao 3 g
Additional herbs were added based on indications and differential diagnostics. For chills and aversion to wind combined with painful obstruction of the meridians, the following were added
Qiang Huo 12 g
Zhi Cao Wu 10 g
For dampness with heat and numbness, the following were added
Cang Zhu 15 g
Huang Bai 10 g
For blood stasis with painful blockage of the meridians, the following were added
Chuan Xiong 12 g
E Zhu 10 g
Acupuncture plus herbs yielded a 96.67% total effective rate and the medications yielded an 83.33% total effective rate. Acupuncture outperformed the medication group by 13.34%. The researchers conclude that acupuncture plus herbs is effective for the alleviation of cervical spondylosis and associated radiculopathy. Electroacupuncture applied to upper back and neck points is shown.
Foshan Chinese Medicine Hospital researchers (Zhou et al.) looked at a very different type of neck pain. Their investigation examined the efficaciousness of electroacupuncture as a means to minimize pain after cervical spine surgery. Perioperative application of electroacupuncture to LI4 (Hegu) and PC6 (Neiguan) successfully reduced pain after surgery. In addition, patient controlled analgesia requests dropped sharply.
Several other clinical advantages to perioperative acupuncture were documented by the researchers. Electroacupuncture significantly reduced the dosage needs for remifentanil (synthetic opioid analgesic) and propofol (sedative). Acupuncture stabilized the heartbeat rate and the average arterial pressure. In addition, the time needed to regain consciousness after surgery was reduced by acupuncture. The time reduced from an average of 22.31 minutes for the medication only group to 7.01 minutes for the acupuncture plus medication group. Electroacupuncture significantly reduced the frequency of nausea, vomiting, and constipation after surgery.
LI4 and PC6 were needled perpendicularly and manual stimulation was applied to elicit the arrival of deqi. Continuous wave electroacupuncture was applied with a frequency increasing from 100 Hz to 1,000 Hz. The researchers concluded that electroacupuncture is effective in providing significant pain relief and minimizes complications due to surgery of the cervical spine.
Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine First Hospital (Li et al.) researchers document that acupuncture frees neck movement and stops pain. Their research also finds that combining Chinese herbal medicine with acupuncture increases the efficacy rate. A one year follow-up demonstrated that the acupuncture plus herbs protocol provides significant long-lasting clinical results.
Exclusion criteria were applied. For example, CT scans were used to ensure that participants did not have intracranial lesions. X-rays ruled out cervical spondylosis. Neurophysiological exams were used to determine inclusion criteria for spasmodic torticollis.
The treatment protocol featured strong acupuncture techniques. Bird-pecking-pulling (Que Zhuo Xie) manual acupuncture was applied to acupoint Shuigou (DU26) upwardly at 45˚. A pulling technique (Ti Cha Xie Fa) was applied with perpendicular insertion to Laogong (PC8) and Yongquan (KD1). Que Zhuo Xie was applied to Baihui (DU20) and Yintang was inserted to the bridge of the nose. Additional acupoints included
The herbal medicine decoction was based on the formula Zhen Gan Xi Huo Tang. The base formula consisted of
Sheng Long Gu 30 g
Zhen Zhu Mu 15 g
Jiang Can 10 g
Ci Shi 30 g
Additional herbs were added for specific conditions. For severe neck stiffness, the following were added
Bai Shao 45 g
Ge Gen 15 g
Gou Ji 15 g
For heat with phlegm, the following were added
Shi Chang Pu 15 g
Yuan Zhi 15 g
Zhu Ru 10 g
For participants with depression, the following herbs were added
Yu Jin 15 g
He Huan Pi 15 g
The herbs were decocted once per day and were administered in two doses, one in the morning and one at night. Outcomes measures included documentation of range of motion changes, shoulder lift, twitching, and tremors. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of spasmodic torticollis but acupuncture plus herbs is even more effective.
Liu et al. find acupuncture plus herbs effective for the relief of neck and shoulder dysfunction characterized by pain, numbness, inflammation, range of motion impingement, and hypodynamia (decrease in strength). The researchers commented that, statistically, white collar workers that spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk are particularly susceptible to this condition. In these cases, workers noted that their neck and shoulder tension and pain was partially alleviated by days off from work.
Acupuncture was applied to 2 – 4 points from a set of primary acupoints including
Manual needle stimulation was applied while patients actively and passively moved the neck and shoulder. Needle retention time was twenty minutes for this portion of the treatment session. Supplementary points were added for specific indications. For these points, electroacupuncture was applied. For posterior neck pain, Houxi (SI3) was added. For dampness, Fenglong (ST40) was added. For blood stasis, Xuehai (SP10) was added. An additional twenty minutes of needle retention time was added for the secondary electroacupuncture portion of the treatment session.
Herbal medicine was prescribed based on diagnostics. Patients with cold type pain were given Xiao Yao San. If neutral temperatures were determined, Si Ni San was prescribed. Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San was prescribed for patients with heat. For patients with deficiency, a combination of Xiao Yao San and Dang Gui Shao Yao San was prescribed. For cases of excess, Chai Hu Shu Gan San with Si Ni San was prescribed. Customization formulas based on differential diagnostics included the addition of herbs including Bai Shao, Gui Zhi, Huang Qi, Chai Hu, Fu Ling, and Ge Gen.
The researchers note that both the total recovery rate and the total effective rate was significant for participants receiving acupuncture plus herbs. All of the aforementioned studies indicate that acupuncture is an effective modality for the treatment of neck pain. The investigations demonstrate a variety of clinical scenarios and treatment protocols for the resolution of neck pain using acupuncture or acupuncture plus herbs.
Chen XP, Liang Q & Zhou SM. (2014). Controlled Clinical Studies on Treating Neck Cervical Spondylosis with Combination of Point-to-point Auricular Acupuncture along the Skin and Body Acupuncture. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 6(36).
Huang LC. (1991). Auricular Acupuncture: Diagnosis and Treatment. Beijing: Journal of Science & Technology.
Zeng R & Huang HF. (2015). Clinical observation on treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy by floating-acupuncture, electro-acupuncture plus TCM medicine. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 7(29).
Zou XG. (2012). TCM, acupuncture, moxibustion, Tui Na and cervical traction in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy: 19 cases.China Modern Applied Medicine. 6(3): 42-43.
Zhou W, Chen YX & Ou JY. (2014). Electro Acupuncture on Hegu Point and Neiguan Point to Treat Acute Pain after Surgery on Anterior Cervical Spine. World Chinese Medicine. 9(4).
Li ZR. (2003). Acupuncture Experiments. Beijing: China TCM Publisher. 154.
Li, W. W. & Wu, L. Z. (2015). Clinical Observations on Combined Use of Acupuncture and Medicine for Treatment of Spasmodic Torticollis. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 34 (2).
Chen, Y., Qiao, K. & Jiang, W. X., et al. (2006). 146 cases of clinical study on EMG-guided botulinum toxin type A treatment of spasmodic torticollis [J]. Chinese Journal of Clinical Neurosciences. 14(2).
Liu YD. (2014). The treatment of neck-shoulder syndrome from liver and gallbladder theory by acupuncture plus TCM medicine. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 6 (16).
Shao SJ, Xie Q. (1999). Wei Jia Acupuncture Therapy. Shanghai University of TCM Publisher. 66.
By now, we all know that massage therapy is great for relaxation and even pain relief. What most people don’t realize is that it offers some surprising health benefits, as well.
1) Counteracts postural stress caused by too much sitting
2) Eases chronic back pain
3) Reduces inflammation after a workout
4) Soothes anxiety and depression
5) Improves sleep
6) Boosts immunity
7) Relieves headaches
If you are living with these discomforts, relief is a phone call away. Call 615-939-2787 to learn more about the variety of massage therapy we have available to our clients.
25 SEPTEMBER 2015
Acupuncture relieves neck pain and numbness and reduces levels of proinflammatory blood cytokines. Researchers conclude that warm needle acupuncture has a 92.05% total effective rate for the treatment of pain, numbness, and radiating discomfort due to cervical spondylosis with radiculopathy. This is a condition wherein there is spinal and soft tissue degeneration in the neck causing nerve impingement with subsequent pain or numbness. The symptoms often radiate from the neck to the shoulders, chest, back, and limbs. In addition, acupuncture successfully reduces blood levels of tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 beta (IL1β) and interleukin 6 (IL6).
A total of 169 patients participated in the hospital study. Most of the patients experienced pain upon stretching and all patients had a limited range of motion of the neck. Patients demonstrated significant reductions in neck, shoulder, and limb pain as a result of acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture also significantly relieved numbness in these areas.
Two groups were compared. One group received conventional acupuncture and the other group received warm needle acupuncture. The warm needle acupuncture group received a combination of moxibustion with acupuncture and had a 92.05% total effective rate. The conventional acupuncture group had an 81.48% total effective rate.
The acupuncture with moxibustion group received needling at the following acupuncture points and moxibustion at the acupoints and surrounding areas:
The conventional acupuncture group was needled at the following acupuncture points:
Dazhui (Bailao), DU14
One course of care comprised one treatment per day for six days. All patients received two courses of care. Both groups demonstrated a high effective rate with significant reductions in pain and numbness. In addition, both groups demonstrated significant improvements in range of motion.
A related study finds acupuncture more effective than Meloxicam, a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug, for the treatment of neck disc herniations. A total of 420 patients were investigated in a randomized controlled study. Acupuncture was applied to acupoints:
Electroacupuncture connected DU14 and BL11 with a continuous 40 Hz, 2 mA stimulation for 20 minutes. Acupuncture was administered once per day and 10 acupuncture treatments consisted of one treatment course. A day off was taken following the first course. This was followed by another treatment course. The drug group received a 7.5 mg tablet of Meloxicam at a rate of once per day. The oral tablet was taken in the evening for a total of 20 days.
Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, 145 patients recovered in the short-term. Of the 208 drug patients, 93 recovered in the short-term. Improvements also occurred in an additional 53 acupuncture patients and 90 medication patients. The electroacupuncture group had 9 poor responses and the drug group had 25 poor responses to treatment in the short-term.
Electroacupuncture produced significantly greater positive patient outcomes than the medication group for 95% recovery and significant levels of improvement groups. Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, a total of 180 patients had a 95% recovery in the long-term. Of the 208 drug patients, 142 patients had a long-term 95% recovery. Electroacupuncture caused 25 patients to improve significantly. The medication caused 52 medication patients to improve significantly.
Poor results for electroacupuncture were limited to 2 patients and 14 medication patients had poor results in the long-term. The researchers note, “With a randomized controlled multi-centered large-sampled method, this study has shown that the EA (electroacupuncture) group was better than the medication group in comparing both short-term and long-term therapeutic efficacies.”
Ye, Y. X., Xu, L. & Yao, J. (2015). The Clinical Observation on Acupuncture Thermal Moxibustion Combined with Convention Acupuncture in Treatment of Acute Cervical Spondylotic Radiculopathy. Journal of Emergency in Traditional Chinese Medicine. 24(6).
Wang WJ，Lu J，Niu CS，et a1．Effects of electroacupuncture of unilateral and bilateral “zusanli”(ST 36) Oil seixlm TNF— alpha．IL—l and IL一4 levels in rats with chronic inflammatory pain[J]．ZhenCiYan Jiu，2010，35(6)：429—432.
Pei J，Wei H，Liu ZD．Effects of moxibustion on the expression of IL—lbeta．IL一2，IL一6 mRNA and protein in the cerebral cortex in tumor beating mice [J] ．ZhenCiYahJiu，2010，35(4)：243—249.
Wu, Yao-chi, Jun-feng Zhang, Yi-jun Sun, Cheng-fei Huang, Ping Shao, and Gui-zhen Liu. “Clinical study on electroacupuncture for cervical intervertebral disc herniation.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 11, no. 6 (2013): 371-374.
Sun SC, Sun ZG. Clinical Orthopaedics and Traumatology. Beijing: People’s Medical Publishing House, 2006: 750.
Xu LB, He YY. The effect of Du Meridian-regulating therapy on immunoglobulins in cervical intervertebral disc herniation. Shanghai Zhenjiu Zazhi, 2011, 30(9): 615-616.
From Health CMI:
Researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with massage is effective for the treatment of cervical vertigo. This condition is a type of dizziness often caused by abnormalities in neck proprioceptors or by vascular compression. Patients experience a feeling of spinning. Cervical vertigo may be caused by head or neck trauma, neck arthritis, surgery to the neck, Meniere’s disease, inner ear disorders and other issues. Common treatments include physical therapy, medications including muscle relaxants, cervical blocks and surgery. In this new acupuncture continuing education study, the combination of acupuncture and massage is shown to produce significant positive patient outcomes with a total effective rate of 95%.
Cervical vertigo differs from other types of vertigo in that this diagnosis refers to cases wherein proprioception of the neck is disturbed. Proprioception is the ability to sense the body’s position, motion and equilibrium. For example, a blindfolded individual can sense if their leg is lifted or their hand is raised above their head. Disturbances in proprioception of the neck may lead to dizziness, cervical vertigo. Intensity may range from mild to severe. Associated symptoms include loss of balance, lightheadedness, blurry vision, nausea and vomiting.
Researchers from the Rehabilitation Department of No. 2 People’s Hospital of Linhai City (Zhenjiang) randomly divided 84 patients with cervical vertigo into two groups. Group #1 received standalone Chinese medicine massage treatments. Group #2 received a combination of acupuncture and massage treatments. After two weeks, patients in group #2 achieved an overall effective rate of 95% compared with 79.95% for group #1. Based on the clinical outcomes, the researchers conclude acupuncture combined with massage is a highly effective approach for the treatment of cervical vertigo.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) categorizes cervical vertigo as a disease of dizziness. TCM differential diagnostics identify several underlying syndromes giving rise to cervical vertigo including qi and blood stagnation, liver and kidney yin deficiency, qi and blood deficiency and vascular issues causing insufficient blood supply to the brain. The combination of acupuncture and massage is identified by the researchers as having several beneficial effects: improved blood oxygen supply, enhanced microcirculation of blood to the affected region, reduced muscle spasms and pain. Transcranial Doppler (TCD) measurements confirm that the combination of acupuncture and massage increase blood flow in the vertebrobasilar arteries and brain. In addition, TCD measurements confirm that needling the acupoint Jingming (UB1) significantly improves cervical vertigo patients’ speed of blood flow in the vertebrobasilar arteries.
The massage treatments were administered with patients in a supine position. The therapist, seated near the patients’ heads, applied massage therapy to relax local muscles of the neck, shoulders and upper back. Points of tenderness received special attention along with acupressure to acupuncture points Fengchi (GB20), Jianjing (GB21), Baihui (DU20) and related points for 1 – 2 minutes per each acupoint. In some cases, the therapist applied upward static force pull-outs for 15 seconds per pull. The duration of each massage was 30 minutes. The massage treatment was applied every other day with one week comprising one course. The entire treatment lasted for wo courses.
The patient took a prone posture with head slightly leaning forward and neck muscles relaxed. One cun filiform needles were used. Acupuncture needling was applied to Fengfu (DU16), Baihui (DU20) and Xuanzhong (GB39) bilaterally with even reinforcing and reducing manipulation methods. The depth of insertion was 15 to 25 mm and the retention of needling was 30 minutes per acupuncture session. The treatment was applied once daily for a course of two weeks.
After two weeks, both groups demonstrated positive clinical outcomes. The massage group had 17 patients cured, 8 patients having made remarkable improvements, 5 patients having made moderate improvements and 8 patients having made no improvements. The combination group had 80 patients cured, 5 patients having made remarkable improvements, 8 patients having made moderate improvements and 2 patients having made no improvements. Based on the above outcomes, the researchers conclude that the combination of acupuncture and massage is safe and effective for the treatment of cervical vertigo.