A study, the results of which were reported in Pain (June 2004), found that acupuncture may decrease neck pain in patients for several years. For the study, researchers in Norway developed a technique for a sham or dummy treatment. Twelve women office workers with chronic neck and shoulder pain received 10 sessions of standard acupuncture and acupressure techniques. An additional 12 workers had needles placed in areas a few millimeters away from the points used in standard treatment.
The results indicated that the intensity of pain reported by the acupuncture group dropped 70% over the course of treatment, and 3 years later remained at about half of the pretreatment level. In the sham group, the level of pain fell slightly during treatment, but slowly crept back up afterward. They were in more pain 3 years later, compared with before the experiment began.