Neck Pain Research

Effectiveness of Chiropractic for Neck Pain

Quebec Task Force Report
In 1995 the Quebec task force found that there was very little evidence to support any particular treatment methods for the care of whiplash-associated disorders. Based on limited evidence and reasoning by analogy, it is the Task Force consensus that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents and analgesics, short term manipulation and mobilization by trained persons, and active exercises are useful in Grade II and III WAD, but prolonged use of soft collars, rest or inactivity probably prolongs disability in WAD Spitzer WO, Skovron ML et al (1995) Scientific Monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash Associated Disorders: Refining Whiplash and its Management, Spine 20:8s.

Neck Pain Information Articles

Rehabilitation Program for Traumatic Chronic Cervical Pain Associated With Unsteadiness: A Single Case Study

Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2008 (Nov 17); 16 (1): 15 ~ FULL TEXT
This case report indicates that an 8-week rehabilitation program combining therapeutic exercises with spinal manipulative therapy may have had an effect on improvement of postural control in a trauma Chronic Neck Pain patient with unsteadiness. These results warrant further studies to investigate the relationships between pain amelioration, sensorimotor control of the cervical spine, muscle fitness and postural steadiness.

What Causes Chronic Neck Pain?

North American Spine Society
It is usually not possible to know the exact cause of neck pain in the days or weeks after a car accident. We know the muscles and ligaments get strained and are probably inflamed, but they usually heal within six to ten weeks. Pain that lasts longer (than 6–10 weeks) is usually due to deeper problems such as injury to the disc or facet joint, or both. Read more here.

Conservative Management of Mechanical Neck Disorders:
A Systematic Review

J Rheumatol 2007 (May); 34 (5): 1083–1102
In a review of 88 unique RCTs, the authors found that “Exercise combined with mobilization/manipulation, exercise alone, and intramuscular lidocaine for chronic MND; intravenous glucocorticoid for acute whiplash associated disorders; and low-level laser therapy demonstrated either intermediate or longterm benefits. Optimal dosage of effective techniques and prognostic indicators for responders to care should be explored in future research.”

Chronic Mechanical Neck Pain in Adults Treated by Manual Therapy: A Systematic Review of Change Scores in Randomized Clinical Trials

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2007 (Mar); 30 (3): 215–227
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that subjects with chronic neck pain not due to whiplash and without arm pain and headaches show clinically important improvements from a course of spinal manipulation or mobilization at 6, 12, and up to 104 weeks posttreatment. The current evidence does not support a similar level of benefit from massage.

Return to Work After Two Years of Total Disability: A Case Report

J Occup Rehabil 2006 (Jun 3)
This paper describes the conservative management of a patient who was disabled from work for 2 years, using an integrated approach including chiropractic manipulation, pain education, restricted duty and clear communications among all parties involved. After 15 weeks, the patient returned to her previous occupation as a nurse, first part time, and subsequently full time. There are more articles like this in the CASE STUDIES Section.

Improvement After Chiropractic Care in Cervicocephalic Kinesthetic Sensibility and Subjective Pain Intensity in Patients with Nontraumatic Chronic Neck Pain

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2006 (Feb); 29 (2): 100–106
There was no difference between the treatment patients and the control subjects at the beginning with regard to age, sex, subjective pain intensity, range of motion, and HRA. At the 5-week follow-up, the treatment patients showed significant reductions in pain and improvement of all HRA aspects measured whereas the control subjects did not show any reduction in pain and improvement in only one HRA aspect. The results of this study suggest that chiropractic care can be effective in influencing the complex process of proprioceptive sensibility and pain of cervical origin. Short, specific chiropractic treatment programs with proper patient information may alter the course of chronic cervical pain.

Exercises for Mechanical Neck Disorders

Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005 (Jul 20); 3: CD004250
The evidence summarised in this systematic review indicates that specific exercises may be effective for the treatment of acute and chronic MND, with or without headache. To be of benefit, a stretching and strengthening exercise program should concentrate on the musculature of the cervical, shoulder-thoracic area, or both. A multimodal care approach of exercise, combined with mobilisation or manipulation for subacute and chronic MND with or without headache, reduced pain, improved function, and global perceived effect in the short and long term.

Chronic Pain in Persons With Neuromuscular Disease

Clin J Pain 2005 (Jan); 21 (1): 18–26
In this paper, researchers in a medical school rehabilitation department were interested in finding out what treatments were most effective at reducing pain for neuromuscular diseases (like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and myotonic muscular dystrophies). Interestingly, chiropractic scored the highest relief rating (7.33 out of 10), scoring higher than the relief provided by these medical treatments: nerve blocks (6.75) or Opioid analgesics (6.37). WOW!!!

Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation and Mobilization for Low Back Pain and Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Best Evidence Synthesis

Spine Journal (of the North American Spine Society) 2004 (May); 4 (3): 335–356
Our data synthesis suggests that recommendations can be made with some confidence regarding the use of SMT and/or MOB as a viable option for the treatment of both low back pain and neck pain. There have been few high-quality trials distinguishing between acute and chronic patients, and most are limited to shorter-term follow-up. Future trials should examine well-defined subgroups of patients, further address the value of SMT and MOB for acute patients, establish optimal number of treatment visits and consider the cost-effectiveness of care.

Chiropractic Management of Intractable Chronic Whiplash Syndrome
Clinical Chiropractic 2004 (Mar): 7 (1): 16–23
The management protocol in this case consisted of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy, soft tissue work and post-isometric relaxation (PIR) techniques to address biomechanical somatic dysfunction. In addition, active rehabilitation exercises, self-stretches and proprioceptive exercises were utilised to address postural and muscle imbalance. On the seventh treatment, the patient reported no neck pain, no headaches and unrestricted cervical spine range of motion. At 4 months follow-up, the patient continued to be free of headaches and neck stiffness and reported only mild, intermittent neck pain.

Chronic Spinal Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Medication, Acupuncture, and Spinal Manipulation

Spine 2003 (Jul 15); 28 (14): 1490–1502
The highest proportion of early (asymptomatic status) recovery was found for manipulation (27.3%), followed by acupuncture (9.4%) and medication (3%). Manipulation achieved the best overall results, with improvements of 50% (P = 0.01) on the Oswestry scale, 38% (P = 0.08) on the NDI, 47% (P < 0.001) on the SF-36, and 50% (P < 0.01) on the VAS for back pain, 38% (P < 0.001) for lumbar standing flexion, 20% (P < 0.001) for lumbar sitting flexion, 23% (P = 0.1) for cervical sitting flexion, and 18% (P = 0.02) for cervical sitting extension.

Cost Effectiveness of Physiotherapy, Manual Therapy, and General Practitioner Care for Neck Pain: Economic Evaluation Alongside a Randomised Controlled Trial

British Medical Journal 2003 (Apr 26); 326 (7395): 911 ~ FULL TEXT
A hands-on approach to treating neck pain by manual therapy may help people get better faster and at a lower cost than more traditional treatments, according to this study. After seven and 26 weeks, they found significant improvements in recovery rates in the manual therapy group compared to the other 2 groups. For example, at week seven, 68% of the manual therapy group had recovered from their neck pain vs. 51% in the physical therapy group and 36% in the medical care group. You may also enjoy this WebMD review titled: Manual Therapy Eases Neck Pain, Cheaply: Hands-On Approach Effective, and More Cost-Effective, than Traditional Treatments .

Two-year Follow-up of a Randomized Clinical Trial of Spinal Manipulation and Two Types of Exercise for Patients with Chronic Neck Pain

Spine 2002 (Nov 1); 27 (21): 2383–2389
The results of this study demonstrate an advantage of spinal manipulation combined with low-tech rehabilitative exercise and MedX rehabilitative exercise versus spinal manipulation alone over two years and are similar in magnitude to those observed after one-year follow-up. These results suggest that treatments including supervised rehabilitative exercise should be considered for chronic neck pain sufferers. Further studies are needed to examine the cost effectiveness of these therapies and how spinal manipulation compares to no treatment or minimal intervention.

A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial on the Relative Effect of Instrumental (MFMA) Versus Manual (HVLA) Manipulation in the Treatment of Cervical Spine Dysfunction

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001 (May); 24 (4): 260–271
The results of this clinical trial indicate that both instrumental (MFMA) manipulation and manual (HVLA) manipulation have beneficial effects associated with reducing pain and disability and improving cervical range of motion in this patient population. A randomized, controlled clinical trial in a similar patient base with a larger sample size is necessary to verify the clinical relevance of these findings.

Clinical Study on Manipulative Treatment of Derangement of the Atlantoaxial Joint

J Tradit Chin Med 1999 (Dec); 19 (4): 273–278
The derangement of the atlantoaxial joint is one of main cervical sources of dizziness and headache, which were based on the observation on the anatomy of the upper cervical vertebrae, analysis of X-ray film of the atlantoaxial joint, and the manipulative treatment in 35 patients with cervical spondylosis.

Spinal Pain Syndromes:Nociceptive, Neuropathic, and Psychologic Mechanisms

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999 (Sep); 22 (7): 458–472
Although the treatment of neuropathic pain is difficult, sufficient evidence in the literature demonstrates that the treatment of nociceptive pain should be multimodal and involve spinal manipulation, muscle lengthening/stretching, trigger point therapy, rehabilitation exercises, electrical modalities, a variety of nutritional factors, and mental/emotional support.

Chronic Spinal Pain Syndromes: A Clinical Pilot Trial Comparing Acupuncture, A Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug, and Spinal Manipulation

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1999 (Jul); 22 (6): 376–381
The consistency of the results provides, in spite of several discussed shortcomings of this pilot study, evidence that in patients with chronic spinal pain syndromes spinal manipulation, if not contraindicated, results in greater improvement than acupuncture and medicine.

Dysafferentation: A Novel Term to Describe the Neuropathophysiological Effects of Joint Complex Dysfunction. A Look at Likely Mechanisms of Symptom Generation

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1998 (May); 21 (4): 267–280 ~ FULL TEXT
Joint complex dysfunction should be included in the differential diagnosis of pain and visceral symptoms because joint complex dysfunction can often generate symptoms which are similar to those produced by true visceral disease. You may also enjoy this response from another chiropractic researcher.

The Effects of Spinal Manipulation on Cervical Kinesthesia in Patients With Chronic Neck Pain: A Pilot Study

J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997 (Feb); 20 (2): 80–85
Subjects receiving manipulation demonstrated a mean reduction in visual analogue scores of 44%, along with a 41% improvement in mean scores for the head repositioning skill. In comparison, a 9% mean reduction in visual analogue scores and a 12% improvement in head repositioning scores was observed for the stretching group. The difference in the outcomes of the head repositioning skill scores was significant (p < or = .05).

Chronic Cervical Zygapophysial Joint Pain After Whiplash: A Placebo–Controlled Prevalence Study

SPINE 1996 (Aug 1); 21 (15): 1737–1744
The prevalence of cervical zygapophysial joint pain after whiplash has been studied by means of comparative local anesthetic blocks. The concern is that such blocks may be compromised by placebo responses and that prevalence estimates based on such blocks may exaggerate the importance of this condition. In this study, sixty-eight consecutive patients referred for chronic neck pain after whiplash were studied. Those who did not experience pain relief together with the patients with dominant neck pain proceeded to undergo placebo-controlled local anesthetic blocks. Two different local anesthetics and a placebo injection of normal saline were administered in random order and under double-blindfolded conditions. A positive diagnosis was made if the patient’s pain was completely and reproducibly relieved by each local anesthetic but not by the placebo injection. Overall, the prevalence of cervical zygapophysial joint pain (C2-C3 or below) was 60% (93% confidence interval, 46%, 73%).

The Prevalence of Chronic Cervical Zygapophysial Joint Pain
After Whiplash

Spine Journal 1995 ( Jan 1); 20 (1): 20–26
In a significant proportion of patients with whiplash, chronic, refractory neck pain develops. Provisional data suggest many of these patients have zygapophysial joint pain, but the diagnosis has been established by single, uncontrolled diagnostic block. In this study, fifty consecutive, referred patients with chronic neck pain after whiplash injury were studied using double-blind, controlled, diagnostic blocks of the cervical zygapophysial joints. On separate occasions, the joint was blocked with either lignocaine or bupivacaine in random order. A positive diagnosis was made only if both blocks relieved the patient’s pain and bupivacaine provided longer relief. In this population, cervical zygapophysial joint pain was the most common source of chronic neck pain after whiplash.

Contribution of Central Neuroplasticity to Pathological Pain: Review of Clinical and Experimental Evidence

Pain 1993 (Mar); 52 (3): 259–285
Peripheral tissue damage or nerve injury often leads to pathological pain processes, such as spontaneous pain, hyperalgesia and allodynia, that persist for years or decades after all possible tissue healing has occurred. Although peripheral neural mechanisms, such as nociceptor sensitization and neuroma formation, contribute to these pathological pain processes, recent evidence indicates that changes in central neural function may also play a significant role.

The next year research was published confirming the findings of the Quebec Task Force. They found that cervical manipulation and mobilization were effective, safe and appropriate for many categories of patients with head and neck pain. Coulter ID, Hurwitz EL, et al. (1996) The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine, RAND Santa Monica, California, Document No. MR-781-CR In 1996 two studies on neck pain found that today there is better evidence for the effectiveness of manipulation than any other treatment for chronic neck pain. Hurwitz EL, Aker PD etal. Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine, Spine, 1996; 21(15):1746–1760. Aker PD, Gross A et al. Conservative Management of Mechanical Neck Pain: Systematic Overview and Meta–Analysis. Br Med J 1996;313:1291–1296.


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