December 25, 2008

Physical therapy effective on neck pain

The American Physical Therapy Association is urging U.S. patients with musculoskeletal pain to consider treatment by a physical therapist.

Lead researcher and APTA spokesman Michael Walker says a 2007 survey indicated that more than one-third of the 32,000 U.S. adults, and nearly 12 percent of children, use alternative medicine -- with back and neck pain as the top reasons for treatment.

The survey results were released by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

This study, demonstrating the efficacy of physical therapy for a condition as widespread as neck pain, is particularly relevant in today's challenging economic environment, Walker said in a statement.

Walker's study compared the effectiveness of a three-week program of manual physical therapy and exercise to a minimal intervention treatment approach for patients with neck pain.

Study participants consisted of 94 patients with a primary complaint of neck pain, of whom 62 percent also had radiating arm pain. Patients randomized to the manual physical therapy and exercise group received joint and soft-tissue mobilizations and manipulations to restore motion and decrease pain, followed by a standard home exercise program of chin tucks, neck strengthening and range-of-motion exercises.

Results show that manual physical therapy and exercise was significantly more effective in reducing mechanical neck pain and disability and increasing patient-perceived improvements during short- and long-term follow-ups.