The frequency of neck pain is growing and multiple interventions have been advocated in its management. The literature supports the use of a variety of exercises including specific low load endurance exercises, scapular muscle retraining and neck and upper limb strengthening. Pilates is one form of exercise that is developing in popular acceptance. The authors conducted this pilot uncontrolled study in order to investigate whether a 6-week matwork based Pilates programme can change outcome measures in a group of chronic neck pain patients. They assessed 13 patients on self-report tests; neck disability index (NDI), patient specific functional scale (PSFS), numerical rating pain scale (NRPS) and one objective measure; the abdominal drawing in test (ADIT). They achieved a statistically significant improvement in the disability outcomes (NDI and PSFS) at both 6 and 12 weeks. The NRPS also demonstrated statistical improvement at 12 weeks but not at 6. The minimal clinically important difference (MCID) is the score that reflects a change that is meaningful for the patient and this was achieved at 12-weeks for the NDI (>5 points), PSFS (>3 points) and NRPS (>2 points).
In this study only two subjects reached normal levels in the ADIT at 12-weeks. The authors concluded that the results of their pilot study suggested that Pilates has a role to play in reducing pain and disability in people suffering from neck pain.