The use of subjective end-points such as VAS pain scales in studies of acupuncture for chronic neck pain have resulted in equivocal results. This study introduces an objective parameter as the primary end-point for the assessment of acupuncture in patients with acute torticollis (stiff neck). Eighteen patients underwent a single 20-minute treatment session, with needling of two acupuncture points Hou Hsi (SI-3) and Luo Zhen (M-UE-24), on the side ipsilateral to the predominantly involved side of the neck. Measuring the angle of lateral head rotation using a simple compass and protractor, a mean improvement of 52.9% was found, more so among those presenting earlier (< 24 hours) as opposed to later (> 72 hours; p = 0.034). The use of objective parameters, as seen in acupuncture research of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, should be incorporated into studies of acute and chronic neck pain. The use of sham needle points and placebo needles is problematic since both may elicit physiological responses.
- Neck pain