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Drug Free Treatment for Neck Pain and Headaches

Some of Australia’s leading expert Physiotherapists recently put together an article for the Australian Physiotherapy Association on the use of acupuncture and dry needling. It was particularly interesting to read how effective it can be for neck pain and headaches, which are two of the most common conditions that we treat!

We’ve listed some of the key takeaways from the article below, or you can click here to read the full summary from the APA.

Acupuncture and dry needling are effective non-drug treatments for neck pain

  • Acupuncture and dry needling have clinically relevant treatment outcomes for neck pain disorders (Mejuto-Vazquez et al 2014, Vickers et al 2018) due to the effects on multiple systems of the body (Gattie et al 2017).
  • Acupuncture and dry needling reduce pain and inflammation in people with neck pain disorders. The effectiveness appears to be higher for musculoskeletal pain in the upper body and the effects are superior to sham treatment (Vickers et al 2018)
  • Improvements in muscle contractile properties and neck range of motion have also been noted after as little as two treatments (Llamas-ramos et al 2014, Mejuto-Vazquez et al 2014).
  • Impairments in sensory motor control relating to the cervical spine are often observed in people with neck pain (Treleaven 2017).
  • Dry needling has been shown to improve joint position error and range of motion in patients with neck pain after just one treatment and may be an important part of a multimodal treatment approach in this patient population (Murillo et al 2021).

Acupuncture is an effective part of physiotherapy treatment for migraines and chronic tension-type headaches

  • Acupuncture seems to be at least as effective as conventional preventative medication for migraines and is safe, long-lasting and cost-effective (Witt et al 2008, Da Silva 2015).
  • It reduces migraine frequency, is superior to sham and may be as effective as prophylactic drugs.
  • Acupuncture has a potentially important role as part of a treatment plan for migraines, tension-type headaches and several different types of headache disorders. In response to migraines, acupuncture is superior to sham treatment both in effectiveness and in reduced risk of reoccurrence (Yang et al 2016).
  • It is effective for frequent, episodic and chronic tension-type headaches (Linde et al 2016) and has been included in the NICE guidelines for headaches since 2012

If you are requiring Dry Needling treatment, we recommended seeing one of several of our Physiotherapists, listed below, who have completed additional training in Dry Needling.

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