Chinese Herbal Medicine for Chronic Neck Pain due to Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease
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STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review. OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicines in treating chronic neck pain with radicular signs or symptoms. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Chronic neck pain with radicular signs or symptoms is a common condition. Many patients use complementary and alternative medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine, to address their symptoms. METHODS: We electronically searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and AMED (up to 2009), the Chinese Biomedical Database and related herbal medicine databases in Japan and South Korea (up to 2007). We also contacted content experts and hand searched a number of journals published in China.We included randomized controlled trials with adults with a clinical diagnosis of cervical degenerative disc disease, cervical radiculopathy, or myelopathy supported by appropriate radiologic findings. The interventions were Chinese herbal medicines. The primary outcome was pain relief, measured with a visual analogue scale, numerical scale, or other validated tool. RESULTS: All 4 included studies were in Chinese; 2 of which were unpublished. Effect sizes were not clinically relevant and there was low quality evidence for all outcomes due to study limitations and sparse data (single studies). Two trials (680 participants) found that Compound Qishe Tablets relieved pain better in the short-term than either placebo or Jingfukang; one trial (60 participants) found than an oral herbal formula of Huangqi relieved pain better than Mobicox or Methycobal, and another trial (360 participants) showed that a topical herbal medicine, Compound Extractum Nucis Vomicae, relieved pain better than Diclofenac Diethylamine Emulgel. CONCLUSION: There is low quality evidence that an oral herbal medication, Compound Qishe Tablet, reduced pain more than placebo or Jingfukang and a topical herbal medicine, Compound Extractum Nucis Vomicae, reduced pain more than Diclofenac Diethylamine Emulgel. Further research is very likely to change both the effect size and our confidence in the results.
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