Effect of manual therapy and stretching on neck muscle strength and mobility in chronic neck pain.

Häkkinen A, Salo P, Tarvainen U, Wirén K, Ylinen J

The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of manual therapy and stretching on neck function in women with chronic neck pain. 125 women were randomized into 2 groups. Group 1 received manual therapy twice a week for 4 weeks followed by stretching exercises. Group 2 performed stretching 5 times a week for 4 weeks followed by manual therapy. Neck function was assessed by isometric neck strength and mobility measurements, and spontaneous neck pain during the past week and strain-evoked pain during the neck strength trials using a visual analogue scale. Both neck muscle strength and mobility  improved similarly in both groups. Pain during the neck strength trials decreased from the baseline to week 4 similarly in both groups. Average neck pain during the past week decreased by 64% and 53% in groups 1 and 2, respectively, during the first 4 weeks, remaining rather stable thereafter. The authors conclude that both manual therapy and stretching were effective short-term treatments for reducing both spontaneous and strain-evoked pain in patients with chronic neck pain. It is possible that the decrease in pain reduced inhibition of the motor system and in part improved neck function. However, the changes in neck muscle strength were minor, showing that these treatments alone are not effective in improving muscle strength.

Journal of Rehabilitaion Medicine, 2007, 39(7), 575-9.

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Sensorimotor Impairment in Neck Pain

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