Neck pain will affect up to 70% of the population at some point in their lifetimes. Thankfully the vast majority of these cases are not serious in nature and will improve with conservative treatments including Physical Therapy. Within Physical Therapy, a manual therapy (mobilization and manipulation) and strengthening exercise approach has been shown to be more effective than primary care management or usual care Physical Therapy (modalities and exercise). In addition, patients treated with this approach only pay 1/3 the cost of primary care management for neck pain. In the research, as neck symptoms transition from acute to chronic high level exercise becomes even more important in the management of this condition reducing recurrence rates among these patients. A new research study highlights the importance of these interventions for patients with chronic neck pain.
Domingues and colleagues in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation studied the impact of manual therapy and exercise in patients with chronic neck pain (2019). 64 patients were randomized to either 12 visits of manual therapy and exercise approach or 15 visits usual care Physical Therapy. These patients were then assessed at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 month follow up time periods. Consistent with prior research significant improvements in pain, disability, and perceived recovery were found in the manual therapy and exercise group vs. the usual care Physical Therapy group alone. This study adds to our understanding on the importance of manual therapy and exercise in the management of patients with neck pain.