Monday, February 20, 2012

Neck Wrenching Pain and Stiffness

How many times have you woken up in the morning with "a crick in your neck" or pain so bad that you just want to roll back over and go to sleep? You are not alone, it's estimated that 70% of people will have neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain is not only a literal pain in our necks but it can also effect productivity and our quality of life too. Many of those people will ignore their neck pain but some will get treatment from a doctor or other health care practitioner. But how do you know what treatment is right for you?
In a recent study published by the annals of Internal Medicine in January of 2012, researchers looked at treatments such as medication, home exercise, and spinal manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments) to find out what is most effective in the treatment of acute and subacute neck pain. 272 participants with neck pain for 2-12 weeks were assigned to treatment group for 12 weeks and then results were measured for short and long term effectiveness over 52 weeks. Read the full study.

So what did those results show? After 12 weeks of treatment, the spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) group had a greater reduction in pain that the medication group. In addition, the SMT treatment group showed greater reduction in pain than both the home exercise and medication groups at 52 weeks. The SMT group also reported higher global improvement, patient satisfaction with care, and assessed physical function than the medication group. The home exercise group also showed a greater reduction in pain than medication and after 12 weeks a higher percentage of participants reported pain reduction of at least 75% over medication.

So this tells us that in cases of acute or sub-acute neck pain, spinal manipulative therapy is superior to medication in short and long term situations for pain reduction, global improvement, patient satisfaction with care, and physical function. Home exercise is also a valuable tool and faired better than medication in pain reduction in short and long term use as well as having a higher patient satisfaction rating.

So if you do have neck pain, talk to your doctor about referring you to a chiropractor or to another specialist for some home exercises! Your local chiropractor would be more than happy to talk to your medical doctor if there are any concerns with treatment.