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Neck pain? Why Alexander technique lessons and acupuncture could be the answer

Published on 03 November 2015

Neck painTwo out of three adults will have chronic neck pain at some point in their lives, but according to new research, Alexander technique lessons or acupuncture could provide the answer.

The first long-term study into the effectiveness of Alexander technique lessons (a posture and coordination improving self-care practice) and acupuncture shows that participants who attended either of these over a 4–5 month period reported a noticeable improvement and continued to do so when the trial ended at one year.

Our study, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was conducted over three years. A total of 517 patients were divided into three groups within a randomised controlled trial. One group received 20 30-minute lessons in the Alexander technique, another group were offered 12 50-minute sessions of acupuncture and a third group continued with just their usual medical treatment.

The findings, according to research lead Dr Hugh MacPherson, were promising: “Patients with chronic conditions were found on average to have benefited from a single intervention: either Alexander technique lessons or acupuncture.

"This is the first trial that followed patients up at one year, well after the end of the intervention period, and provides new evidence that there are long-term benefits.”

Neck pain is a chronic condition globally, affecting around 40% of adults in the UK at some time in their lives. A chronic condition is defined as persisting beyond three months and is generally treated with painkillers and physiotherapy.

Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research and programmes at Arthritis Research UK, said: “Our study is among the first of its kind to carefully analyse the effect these approaches have on alleviating chronic neck pain. We hope the findings will give patients the confidence to consider using them alongside their usual medical treatment and we recommend they discuss these options with their GP.”

Read about how following the Alexander technique helped Sameena.

Sameena's story – using the Alexander technique for neck pain

Dr Sameena Akbar

Dr Sameena Akbar had been suffering with chronic neck pain since the late 90s until a friend suggested she try the Alexander technique.

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