The Alexander Technique for Neck Pain

By Lisa Cantkier

The Alexander Technique for Neck Pain

Acupuncture and the Alexander technique are alternative health therapies that are used to help treat a number of pain conditions, including neck pain, which is often challenging to treat. Developed in the late 1890’s, the Alexander technique is a program that teaches people how to avoid muscle tension while improving coordination, balance and posture. Established more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture is the ancient Chinese technique of pricking specific points through a person’s skin or tissue for healing purposes.

In a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (, researchers wanted to assess how well acupuncture and the Alexander technique worked for neck pain. They studied 517 patients whose neck pain had lasted from three months to several years (the median duration of neck pain was six years). Although patients continued with their usual care, which included prescribed medications and physical therapy for their neck pain, some patients received one of the following additional treatments: 12 50-minute acupuncture sessions or 20 private Alexander technique lessons that taught participants how to correct or avoid muscular pain.

The results are promising. Both groups reported a pain reduction of approximately 32%, compared to how they felt at the start of the study, which is much higher than pain reduction typically associated with physical therapy and exercise. According to the study, “Acupuncture sessions and Alexander technique lessons both led to significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability compared with usual care at 12 months.” The acupuncture and Alexander technique lessons also gave patients “enhanced self-efficacy may partially explain why longer-term benefits were sustained.”

Read more about the study here.

Last Reviewed November 8, 2015

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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