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Neck pain sufferers invited to discuss their experiences

Posted on 17 September 2012

University of York researchers are inviting people suffering from neck pain to join focus groups in Leeds, Manchester and York to discuss their experiences.

Information from the discussions will be fed into the ATLAS neck pain trial, a major study into the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons and acupuncture sessions, funded by Arthritis Research UK.

Our research aims to determine how effective Alexander Technique lessons and acupuncture are for chronic neck pain when used as an addition to standard GP care

Dr Hugh MacPherson

Researchers are looking for people who have suffered with neck pain for more than three months and who would be willing to give their views on acupuncture and Alexander Technique lessons, even if they have not experienced these treatments.

Dr Aniela Wenham, from the Department of Health Sciences at York, said: “We are holding focus groups in the York, Leeds and Manchester areas, each led by a University of York researcher. They will be informal and friendly and involve around eight people discussing their experiences of neck pain. It does not matter if people have no experience of acupuncture or the Alexander Technique as the researcher will tell participants about these treatments.”

The ATLAS neck pain trial is a year-long study run by the Complementary Medicine Research Group in the University’s Department of Health Sciences in conjunction with the York Trials Unit.

Funded by a £720,000 grant from Arthritis Research UK, the trial is looking into the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique and acupuncture in alleviating neck pain compared with normal GP care and how they compare with each other.

The research will provide data which will help patients, practitioners, providers and policy-makers make informed choices about care for neck pain.

Dr Hugh MacPherson, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences, who is leading the ATLAS trial, said: “Chronic neck pain is a common condition among adults, which is not only painful and disabling, but is associated with significant costs to the individual, their families, the NHS and society in general.

“Our research aims to determine how effective Alexander Technique lessons and acupuncture are for chronic neck pain when used as an addition to standard GP care.”

Anyone interested in joining a focus group or who would like to find out more information should contact Aniela Wenham on 07880 182759 or email


Notes to editors:

  • The Alexander Technique is a taught practical method for self care and improvement of postural muscle activity and balance, and for reduction of unwanted responses to pain, stress and life in general, with the consequent benefit of standing, sitting and moving with less strain and greater ease. Alexander teachers use both verbal and hands-on guidance to engage their pupils as active partners in their own recovery.
  • Acupuncture is a technique to promote health and emotional wellbeing which involves the insertion of very fine, sterile disposable needles into the skin. There is some evidence that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain conditions. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends 10 weekly sessions of acupuncture for persistent low back pain.
  • More information on the Complementary Medicine Research Group in the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences at
  • Arthritis Research UK is the UK’s fourth-largest medical research charity. For further information visit

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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