Head and Neck
Acupuncture in shoulder pain and functional impairment after neck dissection: A prospective randomized pilot study
The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.
The efficacy of conventional physiotherapy and antiinflammatory/analgesic drugs in the management of shoulder pain and functional disability following neck dissection is often disappointing. Acupuncture is a safe and well-tolerated method. We report the results regarding our pilot trial of acupuncture versus conventional care in the management of postoperative shoulder pain and dysfunction after neck dissection.
Patients at a tertiary university center with chronic pain or dysfunction attributed to neck dissection were randomly assigned to either weekly acupuncture or usual care (eg., physical therapy, analgesia, and/or antiinflammatory drugs) for 5 consecutive weeks. The Constant-Murley score, a composite measure of pain, function, and activities of daily living, was the primary outcome measure. As secondary end point, The Neck Dissection Impairment Index (NDII) was used to quantify site-specific, self-reported quality of life (QOL).
After randomization, 48 patients completed the study (23 and 25 patients on acupuncture and control arms, respectively). Constant-Murley scores improved more in the acupuncture group (gain difference between groups 13.6, P < 0.01), a statistically significant improvement in site-specific QOL was also recorded at NDII (gain difference between groups 11.5, P < 0.01).
Acupuncture is safe and effective; it should be introduced and offered to patients suffering from neck pain and dysfunction related to neck dissection.
Level of Evidence
2b. Laryngoscope, 126:1790–1795, 2016