This study planned to assess and compare the effectiveness of cervical and scapulothoracic stabilization exercise treatment with and without connective tissue massage (CTM) on pain, anxiety, and the quality of life in patients with chronic mechanical neck pain (MNP). Sixty patients with chronic MNP (18-65 years) were recruited and randomly allocated into stabilization exercise with (Group 1, n = 30) and without the CTM (Group 2, n = 30). The program was carried out for 12 sessions, 3 days/week in 4 weeks. Pain intensity with Visual Analog Scale, pressure pain threshold with digital algometer (JTech Medical Industries, ZEVEX Company), level of anxiety with Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory, and quality of life with Short Form-36 were evaluated before and after the treatment. After the program, pain intensity and the level of anxiety decrease, physical health increase in Group 1 and 2 were found (p < 0.05). Pressure pain threshold and mental health increase were detected in only Group 1 (p < 0.05). The intergroup comparison showed that significant difference in pain intensity at night, pressure pain threshold, state anxiety and mental health were seen in favor of Group 1 (p < 0.05).
The study suggested that stabilization exercises with and without the CTM might be a useful treatment for patients with chronic MNP. However, stabilization exercises with CTM might be superior in improving pain intensity at night, pressure pain threshold, state anxiety and mental health compared to stabilization exercise alone.