Background: Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy is a serious and common degenerative disease of the cervical spine due to irritation and compression of the nerve roots of the cervical spine, resulting in a series of clinical symptoms based on sensory, motor and reflex disorders, such as numbness and pain in the neck, shoulders, upper limbs and fingers. Acupuncture is highly effective in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy and has become a common treatment accepted by patients. This study aims to systematically review and analyze existing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy.
Methods: We used the following eight databases for literature data search: PubMed, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, China Biology Medicine Disc (CBMdisc), Wanfang Database and China Science and Technology Journal Database (VIP).
The search consisted of randomised controlled studies of acupuncture for cervical spondylotic radiculopathy between 2000 and 2020 and the methodological quality of the included studies was assessed according to the Cochrane Collaboration’s “Risk of Bias Assessment Tool.”RevMan 5.4 software was used for statistical analysis only. Study screening, data extraction and statistics, and assessment of the risk of bias of the included studies were performed independently by two reviewers.
Result: 27 studies with 3124 patients were included. The results of the meta-analysis of the total efficiency index for acupuncture for cervical spondylotic radiculopathy were [RR = 1.14,95% CI (1.09,1.19)]. The results of the meta-analysis of the PPI index were [MD = -0.35, 95% CI (-0.61,-0. 09)]. The results of META analysis of the total effective rate, VAS score, PRI(A) score, PRI(S) score and PRI(T) score showed heterogeneity in the studies included for each outcome index, and sources of heterogeneity were sought through subgroup analysis and sensitivity analysis to ensure more stable and reliable data results. The results of the combined meta-analysis showed that the treatment group was significantly more effective than the control group and more effective in lowering the nerves to reduce the pain index in patients with cervical spondylotic radiculopathy, with a statistically significant difference (P<0.05). This indicates that acupuncture treatment is superior to traction for cervical spondylotic radiculopathy.
Conclusion: Acupuncture is significantly more effective than traction therapy in the treatment of cervical spondylosis and can reduce the pain index of patients with cervical spondylotic radiculopathy.