Qigong versus Exercise versus no Therapy for Patients with Chronic Neck Pain – a Randomized Controlled Trial
Spine. 2010 Dec 20; by Rendant D, Pach D, Lüdtke R, Reisshauer A, Willich S, Witt CM. from Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany.
ABSTRACT: Study Design: Randomized controlled trial Objective: To evaluate whether Qigong is more effective than no treatment and not inferior to exercise therapy. Summary of Background Data: Life time prevalence of chronic neck pain is close to 50%. Qigong is often used by patients, although the evidence is still unclear. Methods: Patients (age 20-60 years) with chronic neck pain (VAS ≥ 40 mm) were randomized to 1) Qigong or 2) exercise therapy (18 sessions over six months) or 3) waiting list (no treatment). At baseline and after three and six months, patients completed standardized questionnaires assessing neck pain (VAS), neck pain and disability (NPAD), and quality of life (SF-36). The primary endpoint was average pain in the last seven days on VAS at six month follow-up. Statistical analysis included GEE models adjusted for baseline values and patient expectation. Results: A total of 123 patients (age 46 ± 11 years, 88% women) suffering from chronic neck pain for 3.2 (SD ± 1.6) years were included. After six months a significant difference was seen between the Qigong and waiting list control groups (VAS mean difference: -14 mm [95% CI, -23.1;-5.4], P= 0.002). Mean improvements in the exercise group were comparable to those in the Qigong group (difference between groups -0.7 mm [CI: -9.1; 7.7]) but failed to show statistical significance (p=0.092). NPAD and SF-36 results also yielded superiority of Qigong over no treatment and similar results in the Qigong and exercise therapy groups. Conclusion: Qigong was more effective than no treatment in patients with chronic neck pain. Further studies could be designed without waiting list control and should use a larger sample to clarify the value of Qigong compared to exercise therapy.