Up to 70% of Americans will experience Neck pain in their life times. Despite its’ high incidence this region of the spine is consistently under exercised by clinicians. There are countless passive temporary remedies for neck pain including massage, spinal manipulation, and dry needling, but only high level exercise has been shown to improve the long term effects of neck pain. Patients treated with only passive care for their neck pain will experience more recurrence and prolonged symptoms compared to groups treated with an active approach. A recent randomized controlled trial examined the impact of neck (cervical) Physical Therapy strengthening exercises on patients with chronic neck pain.
Li and colleagues randomized 109 employed (computer users) women with chronic neck pain to either a fixed resistance training program, a progressive resistance training program, or a control group (Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2017). The participants in the Physical Therapy exercise groups performed cervical resistance training exercises in 4 directions over a 6 week period. The progressive group had their resistance increased as tolerated throughout this period. Both exercise groups demonstrated improved strength, mobility, disability, and pain at short and long term outcomes, but greater pain reduction was noted in the progressive resistance training group.