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      Effectiveness and Safety of Polydioxanone Thread Embedding Acupuncture Compared to Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Patients with Non-Specific Chronic Neck Pain: An Assessor-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled, Clinical Trial

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          Thread embedding acupuncture (TEA) has recently been used as a conservative treatment method for non-specific chronic neck pain (CNP). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of TEA compared to physical therapy (PT) for treating patients with CNP.


          A total of 128 patients diagnosed with CNP were randomly assigned to a TEA group and a PT group at a 1:1 ratio. The TEA group received four sessions of TEA, while the PT group received eight sessions of PT over 4 weeks. Outcomes were assessed using Neck Pain and Disability Scale (NPDS), clinically important difference (CID), cervical spinal angle, Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC), and EuroQol Five-Dimension (EQ-5D) at baseline and 5, 9, and 13 weeks.


          The TEA group showed significant improvement in NPDS compared to the PT group at 5, 9, and 13 weeks. Proportions of patients with decreased NPDS scores of more than 11.5 points (minimal CID) were significantly higher in the TEA group at 5, 9, and 13 weeks. There were significant differences between the two groups at 5, 9, and 13 weeks for BDI-II, and at 5 and 9 weeks for BAI. For EQ-5D, the TEA group showed significant improvement at 5, 9, and 13 weeks. There was no significant difference in cervical spinal angle between the two groups. For PGIC, better improvement was observed at 9 and 13 weeks in the TEA group. Adverse events associated with interventions were mostly temporary and mild.


          For patients with CNP, TEA treatment was found to be more effective than PT treatment for improving their pain and dysfunction, quality of life, and psychological distress. Despite some post-treatment discomfort, TEA treatment can be considered as a useful treatment method for patients with CNP.

          Trial Registration

          This trial has been registered 5 April 2019 in Clinical Research Information Service of South Korea (CRIS- KCT0003720).

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          Most cited references 57

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          Measurement of health status. Ascertaining the minimal clinically important difference.

          In recent years quality of life instruments have been featured as primary outcomes in many randomized trials. One of the challenges facing the investigator using such measures is determining the significance of any differences observed, and communicating that significance to clinicians who will be applying the trial results. We have developed an approach to elucidating the significance of changes in score in quality of life instruments by comparing them to global ratings of change. Using this approach we have established a plausible range within which the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) falls. In three studies in which instruments measuring dyspnea, fatigue, and emotional function in patients with chronic heart and lung disease were applied the MCID was represented by mean change in score of approximately 0.5 per item, when responses were presented on a seven point Likert scale. Furthermore, we have established ranges for changes in questionnaire scores that correspond to moderate and large changes in the domains of interest. This information will be useful in interpreting questionnaire scores, both in individuals and in groups of patients participating in controlled trials, and in the planning of new trials.
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            Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia.

             Zhi-Qi Zhao (2008)
            Acupuncture has been accepted to effectively treat chronic pain by inserting needles into the specific "acupuncture points" (acupoints) on the patient's body. During the last decades, our understanding of how the brain processes acupuncture analgesia has undergone considerable development. Acupuncture analgesia is manifested only when the intricate feeling (soreness, numbness, heaviness and distension) of acupuncture in patients occurs following acupuncture manipulation. Manual acupuncture (MA) is the insertion of an acupuncture needle into acupoint followed by the twisting of the needle up and down by hand. In MA, all types of afferent fibers (Abeta, Adelta and C) are activated. In electrical acupuncture (EA), a stimulating current via the inserted needle is delivered to acupoints. Electrical current intense enough to excite Abeta- and part of Adelta-fibers can induce an analgesic effect. Acupuncture signals ascend mainly through the spinal ventrolateral funiculus to the brain. Many brain nuclei composing a complicated network are involved in processing acupuncture analgesia, including the nucleus raphe magnus (NRM), periaqueductal grey (PAG), locus coeruleus, arcuate nucleus (Arc), preoptic area, nucleus submedius, habenular nucleus, accumbens nucleus, caudate nucleus, septal area, amygdale, etc. Acupuncture analgesia is essentially a manifestation of integrative processes at different levels in the CNS between afferent impulses from pain regions and impulses from acupoints. In the last decade, profound studies on neural mechanisms underlying acupuncture analgesia predominately focus on cellular and molecular substrate and functional brain imaging and have developed rapidly. Diverse signal molecules contribute to mediating acupuncture analgesia, such as opioid peptides (mu-, delta- and kappa-receptors), glutamate (NMDA and AMPA/KA receptors), 5-hydroxytryptamine, and cholecystokinin octapeptide. Among these, the opioid peptides and their receptors in Arc-PAG-NRM-spinal dorsal horn pathway play a pivotal role in mediating acupuncture analgesia. The release of opioid peptides evoked by electroacupuncture is frequency-dependent. EA at 2 and 100Hz produces release of enkephalin and dynorphin in the spinal cord, respectively. CCK-8 antagonizes acupuncture analgesia. The individual differences of acupuncture analgesia are associated with inherited genetic factors and the density of CCK receptors. The brain regions associated with acupuncture analgesia identified in animal experiments were confirmed and further explored in the human brain by means of functional imaging. EA analgesia is likely associated with its counter-regulation to spinal glial activation. PTX-sesntive Gi/o protein- and MAP kinase-mediated signal pathways as well as the downstream events NF-kappaB, c-fos and c-jun play important roles in EA analgesia.
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              An inventory for measuring clinical anxiety: Psychometric properties.


                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                28 January 2021
                : 14
                : 201-211
                [1 ]Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Daejeon University , Daejeon, Republic of Korea
                [2 ]Clinical Medicine Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine , Daejeon, Republic of Korea
                [3 ]Korean Medicine Life Science, University of Science & Technology (UST), Campus of Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine , Daejeon, Republic of Korea
                [4 ]Department of Clinical Korean Medicine, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University , Seoul, Republic of Korea
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Young Il Kim Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion Medicine, Daejeon University Daejeon Korean Medicine Hospital , 75, Daedeok-daero 176, Seo-gu, Daejeon, Republic of KoreaTel +82-42-470-9137Fax +82-42-477-9005 Email omdkim01@dju.kr
                Eunseok Kim Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion Medicine, Daejeon University Seoul Korean Medicine Hospital , 32, Beobwon-ro 11, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Republic of KoreaTel +82-2-2222-8103Fax +82-2-2222-8111 Email mybestcando@naver.com

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2021 Kim et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 8, References: 58, Pages: 11
                Funded by: KSN2013210 of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM), Republic of Korea;
                This study was financially supported by grants from project KSN2021210 of the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM), Republic of Korea. The funding sources had no role in the experimental design, procedures, writing, and decision to submit the work for publication.
                Original Research


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