Effect of Therapeutic Exercise on Pain and Disability in the Management of Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials

Given the prevalence of chronic non-specific neck pain (CNSNP) internationally, attention has increasingly been paid in recent years to evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic exercise (TE) with this condition. The purpose of this study was to conduct a current review of RCTs concerning the effect of TE on pain and disability among people with CNSNP, perform a meta-analysis, and summarise current understanding. Seven studies met inclusion criteria. TE proved to have medium significant short and intermediate term effects on pain (g=-0,53, 95% CI -0,86 to -0,20, and g=-0,45, 95% CI -0,82 to -0,07 respectively) and medium but not significant short and intermediate term effects on disability (g=-0,39, 95%CI -0,86 to 0,07, and g=-0,46, 95% CI -1,00 to -0,08). Only one study investigated the effect of TE on pain and disability at follow-up longer than 6 months after intervention.

Consistent with other reviews, the results support the use of therapeutic exercise in the management of chronic non-specific neck pain. In particular, a significant overall effect size was found supporting therapeutic exercise for its effect on pain in both the short and intermediate terms.

Take a look at the Manual Therapy and Exercise for Neck Pain: Clinical Treatment Tool-kit clinical decision making tool in Physiopedia.

Find out about the treatment-based classification of neck pain in Physiopedia