Needle-Knife Therapy Better than Acupuncture-Cupping for Treating Cervical Spondylosis

needle knife acupuncture neck pain stiffness relief in cervical spondylosisA study published in the Chinese medical journal Zhongguo zhen jiu (Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion) in May this year detailed a study which looked at the benefits of needle-knife therapy for neck stiffness and pain relief in cervical spondylosis. The trial compared this treatment with acupuncture-cupping therapy and found needle-knife therapy to be significantly better for neck stiffness and also more effective for relief of neck pain longer-term.

The trial, which involved 30 patients who underwent needle-knife therapy and 30 patients who had acupuncture-cupping, used specific acupuncture points including, for needle-kinfe therapy, points among superior nuchal line of occipital bone, bilateral neck muscle, neck centerline, trapezius and medial border scapula. For acupuncture-cupping, patients were treated at:

  • Fengchi (GB 20)
  • Fengfu (GV 16)
  • Tianzhu (BL 10)
  • Dazhui (GV 14)
  • Jianjing (GB 21)
  • Jiaji (Ex-B2, from C4 to C6)
  • Houxi (SI 3)
  • Ashi point

The application of needling at these points was then followed by cupping on the skin nearby, once every other day over the next twelve days.

Patients were assessed for neck stiffness and neck pain on a visual analogue scale (VAS), with measurements taken before treatment, after treatment, and at 1, 3, and 6 month follow-up appointments.

Needle-Knife Therapy 96.7% Effective

Out of 30 cases, 9 of those in the needle-knife group were classified as cured, with 12 cases have significant relief, and 8 cases finding the treatment effective. Just one case was classed as a failure of treatment to offer relief from symptoms of cervical spondylosis, making the effective rate 96.7%, and the cured and marked improvement rate 70%.

Acupuncture-Cupping 93.3% Effective

Patients receiving acupuncture-cupping were cured in 8 cases, had marked improvements in 9 cases, and had effective relief in 11 cases, leaving just 2 cases as failures. The effective rate was 93.3%, and the cured or marked improvement rate was 56.7%, showing that needle-knife therapy was more effective overall than acupuncture-cupping for relief of neck pain and stiffness in cervical spondylosis.

Needle-Knife Therapy Offers Longer-Lasting Benefits

Specifically, needle-knife therapy was significantly better at relieving neck stiffness than acupuncture-cupping therapy at follow-up 1, 3, and 6 months later. The needle-knife therapy also had a longer-lasting effect; both treatments offered relief from neck pain immediately after treatment, but a more pronounced benefit was seen 3 and 6 months after treatment with needle-knife therapy.


Cao L, Wang F. Efficacy comparison between needle-knife therapy and acupuncture-cupping for cervical spondylosis of cervical type. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2014 May;34(5):499-502.

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