Background and objective: Since oxidative stress plays a pathogenetic role in chronic neck pain (CNP), we investigated whether a combination of α-lipoic acid (ALA) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) might improve pain control and the efficacy of physiotherapy ("multimodal therapy") in patients with CNP.
Setting: This study was conducted in the Rehabilitation Unit of the Department of Surgical and Oncological Sciences at the University Policlinic in Palermo, Italy.
Design and patients: This was a prospective, randomized, open study in outpatients.
Intervention: Patients randomly received either physiotherapy alone (group 2; n = 45) or a combination of ALA 600 mg and SOD 140 IU daily in addition to physiotherapy (group 1; n = 51), for 60 days. Pain was assessed by a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a modified Neck Pain Questionnaire (mNPQ). Treatment compliance and safety were also evaluated.
Results: Both groups experienced a significant reduction in the VAS and mNPQ scores after 1 month; however, while no further improvement was observed in group 2 at 60 days, group 1 showed a further VAS reduction (p < 0.001). In addition, in the mNPQ at 60 days, more patients in group 1 than in group 2 reported that their neck pain was improved (p < 0.01), and they showed greater compliance with prescribed physiotherapy (p = 0.048). No drug reaction was observed.
Conclusion: Use of ALA/SOD in combination with physiotherapy may be a useful approach to CNP, being antioxidants that act on nerve inflammation and disease progression.
Clinical rehabilitation impact: These preliminary observations suggest that some interesting goals (better pain control and physical wellbeing) can be achieved by multimodal therapy in CNP patients.