The influence of home exercise programs for patients with non-specific or specific neck pain: a systematic review of the literature

Neck pain is a leading cause of disability that affects 22–70% of the population. Different techniques have been found effective for the treatment of neck pain. However, there is conflicting evidence to support the role of a therapeutic HEP to reduce pain, disability, and improve function and quality of life (QOL). The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a therapeutic home exercise program (HEP) for patients with neck pain (associated with whiplash, non-specific, or specific neck pain, with or without radiculopathy, or cervicogenic headache) on pain, function, and disability. The secondary aim was to describe the design, dosage, and adherence of the prescribed HEPs. A systematic review with meta-analysis was performed. A total of 1927 subjects included within seven full-text articles met our specific search strategy. It was found that HEPs with a focus on strength and endurance-training exercises, as well as self- mobilization, have a positive effect when used in combination with other conservative treatments or alone.

Home exercise programs that utilize either self-mobilizations within an augmented HEP to address specific spinal levels, or strengthening, and/or endurance exercise are effective at reducing neck pain, function, and disability and improving QOL. The benefit of HEPs in combination with other conservative interventions yields some benefit with a range of effect sizes.

Neck Pain

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability and 21st in terms of overall burden.

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