Experts estimate that up to 70 per cent of people in their lifetime will suffer an episode of neck pain. Although many alternative forms of treatment are available, little has been released in connection with the different treatment options available to patients with neck pain.
A 2012 study involving 272 patients with neck pain compared three treatment options: osteopathy, medicine, and exercise. The patients who received either osteopathic care or exercise training reported the greatest reduction in pain after 12 weeks of treatment. The researchers followed up with the participants for up to a year and found that patients in the osteopathic and exercise groups tended to experience less discomfort than those in the medication group, and these benefits lasted until the study was completed. The researchers concluded that participants from both the group of Osteopathy care and exercise therapy had more than twice the chance of full pain relief relative to the group of patients.
Since the 1980s, quality studies have been published on the short- and medium-term benefits of exercise and manual therapies applied to the cervical spine in patients with neck pain. Nonetheless, the long-term benefits aren’t as well known. In this regard, 191 patients with chronic neck pain followed a 2002 study for two years comparing spinal manipulation (SM) with and without one of two forms of exercises: low-tech (and low-cost) rehabilitative exercises (LTEx) or high-tech MedX (machine-assisted) rehabilitative exercises (HTEx).
The research team randomly assigned one of three therapies for the 191 patients to eleven weeks: SM only; SM + LTEx; or SM + HTEx. At the start of the study, the authors examined the patients, again after five weeks of treatment, and eventually after the completion of the study’s treatment period before 11 weeks. Four, six, twelve, and 24 months later they followed up with the patients.
The results showed that at both one-and two-year time points SM + LTEx and SM + HTEx were both superior to the SM alone. Overall, patients in the SM + LTEx group reported the greatest reduction in pain, and care satisfaction. This result is even more significant, since the care given to the SM + LTEx community costs less than care requiring more costly, specialised equipment.
It is clear that osteopathic treatment requiring stimulation of the spinal cord and/or activation with exercise training provides the best long-term results. Add to that the use of soft tissue treatments such as myofascial release, active release therapy, and different modalities, and osteopathic patients with acute or chronic neck pain are clearly the best choice.