Neck pain is a common problem. Studies show that 10% to 15% of adults are experiencing neck pain at any given time. The Annals of Internal Medicine (May 21, 2002) published a study that compares people with neck pain treated by physical therapists using two different approaches and continued care by an MD over a seven-week period.
“This is the one of the first definitive studies we’ve seen comparing neck pain relief techniques,” says Kenneth A. Olson, PT, President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. “As physical therapists, we’ve seen mobility improve and pain decrease substantially with individual patients treated with manual techniques used in this study. Now we have scientific comparisons.”
The group receiving focused, hands-on manual physical therapy techniques of joint and muscle mobilization, along with postural muscle strengthening-stabilization exercises, reported the greatest improvement (68%). They used less medication and missed fewer days of work.
The group receiving exercise-focused physical therapy techniques of stretching and strengthening with less hands-on techniques showed the second most improvement (51%).
The group that only had follow-up visits with their general practitioner (MD) and received medications, an educational booklet and encouragement to “await further recovery” reported the least improvement (36%).