The relative effectiveness of homoeopathic Simillimum versus oral Traumeel? in the treatment of acute mechanical neck pain
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Introduction There is no proper definition of acute mechanical neck pain (AMNP) but it has been theorized that it has a sudden onset pain and lasts for a relatively short time. It occurs with or without injury and presents with pain in the shoulder and upper arm. Acute mechanical neck pain should not be accompanied by an inflammatory disease, neurological disease, fracture, dislocation, neoplasm or infection AIM The purpose of this study was to compare the relative effectiveness of homoeopathic Simillimum against Traumeel® (a commercial homoeopathic complex) in the treatment of acute mechanical neck pain using the neck disability scale, range of motion measurements and a subjective observation. METHODOLOGY This study was a double blind, quantitative, comparative; clinical trial that involved two treatment groups: Half the participants received the homoeopathic Simillimum and the other half received oral Traumeel® drops. Patients self-selected homoeopathic treatment. Patients were screened and only those who fit the inclusion criteria of suffering from AMNP of maximal two weeks duration, were English conversant and between the ages of 18 and 55 were included. Those suffering with AMNP were required to sign an informed consent form after the procedure was explained thoroughly. Each patient read through the procedure of the clinical trial and were informed that their participation was on a voluntary basis and they could withdraw at any time. Convenience sampling was utilised in which an independent person, using a simple sampling method, randomly allocated the patients into the respective groups. Of the 30 patients, 15 received Traumeel® and 15 received homoeopathic Simillimum. It was hypothesized that the homoeopathic Simillimum treatment would be more effective in the treatment of acute mechanical neck pain than oral Traumeel®. The treatment protocol consisted of three homoeopathic consultations within a seven day period, with the consultations scheduled on days one, three and seven. Subjective and objective measurements were taken at each of the three consultations, Durban University of Technology Homoeopathic Day Clinic, Steve Biko Campus. A Simillimum treatment was prescribed for every patient based on full homoeopathic case history. This Simillimum was confirmed by the co-supervisor. Half of the patients were dispensed the Simillimum and the other half received Traumeel® according to the randomisation list. At the first follow up, on day three, the patients were reassessed according to their progress, perception and their range of motion, and the progress of the patient was analysed. In the last consultation on day seven, the progress of the patient was analysed using the perceptive questionnaire of the Neck Disability Index and the objective cervical range of motion. Full physical examinations were carried out during all three consultations. Upon collection of data, the statistical package SPSS 22.0 was used to record and analyse the data. Non parametric statistical tests were used as the data were non parametric - it does not follow any distribution, was ordinal (not relying on numbers but rather a ranking order of sorts). Inter-group comparisons were made using Mann-Whitney U-test. RESULTS The effectiveness of Traumeel® and homoeopathic Simillimum was measured firstly, in terms of the patients’ perception of the responses to the treatment applying the Neck Disability Index and secondly the increase in degree of movement in the range of motion of the cervical region. When applying an ANOVA with repeated measures with a Greenhouse-Geisser correction, the mean scores between groups were statistically not significantly different (p = 0.112). CONCLUSION Both the Traumeel® and Simillimum treatments were effective in the treatment of acute mechanical neck pain, but there was no evidence that one treatment was more beneficial than the other. The p-values (sig.) reported were greater than 0.05, thus implying that there is no significant difference between the groups.