Exercise for Chronic Neck Pain SufferersDo exercise programs work for patients with chronic neck pain? That's the focus of this study from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences in Hong Kong. Past studies have shown that muscle atrophy (weakness) is linked with neck pain. The exact cause and effect isn't known.
In this study patients with chronic neck pain were divided into two groups. Both groups were given heat treatment and neck care advice. The second group also did an exercise program twice a week for six weeks. The deep muscles of the neck were the main targets for strengthening.
Pain levels and muscle strength were measured after six weeks of treatment. Other factors used to gauge results were patient satisfaction, pain medications used, and the amount of sick leave taken. The same measures were taken after six months.
The authors report both groups got better after six weeks of treatment. The exercise group had much more improvement in function than the control group. The exercise group also had less pain than the control group. By the end of six months patients in both groups were about the same in all areas.
The results of this study show that specific neck exercises can help chronic neck pain sufferers in a short time (six weeks or less). More studies to compare different types of exercise is the next step.
Thomas T. W. Chiu, PhD, et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Efficacy of Exercise for Patients with Chronic Neck Pain. In Spine. January 1, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 1. Pp. E1-E7.
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