Lytras, D.1*, Koulis, N.2, Sykaras, E.1
1Faculty of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece 57001, Thermis, Thessaloniki.
2Physiotherapy Department, Technological Educational Institute of Sterea Ellada, Greece, 35100, Lamia.
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Background: Neck pain is one of the most common and most costly musculoskeletal disorders in Western societies, which is characterized by frequent relapses and chronicity. Chronic neck pain is often connected with the muscular imbalance of cervical muscles. Therapeutic exercise improves pain, disability and neck muscle strength in individuals with chronic neck pain. However, there are not enough studies proving the therapeutic value of McKenzie exercises in people with chronic neck pain. Aim: To compare the short-term effect of two different exercise programs in improving the symptoms and increasing of strength of the cervical muscles in patients with chronic neck pain. Material and Methods: Single-blind study lasting 8 weeks with 24 participants suffering from chronic neck pain. Participants were divided into two groups. The first group followed a combined therapeutic exercise protocol fully adapted to the latest guidelines, which contained a combination of resistance and endurance exercises for the neck muscles. The second group followed a program of McKenzie exercises. Pain, disability, neck muscles pressure pain threshold, active range of motion, maximum isometric strength of neck muscles and endurance of the deep neck flexors were assessed before and after the intervention. For the statistical analysis of the results, the analysis of the variance with repeated measures ANOVA was applied and the significance level was set at p <0,05. Results: There was a statistically significant improvement in all the outcome measures in both groups before and after the intervention. However, between groups analysis showed statistically significant differences in maximum isometric strength in favor of the therapeutic exercise group. Conclusions: Both the therapeutic exercise and the McKenzie method seem to have beneficial short-term effects in patients with chronic neck pain. However, the maximum isometric strength improved more with endurance and resistance training.
Keywords: chronic neck pain; therapeutic exercise; McKenzie exercises; physical therapy.