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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Ylinen 2007.

Neck strength can reduce chronic neck pain long-term

Ylinen J, Häkkinen A, Nykänen M, Kautiainen H, Takala EP. Neck muscle training in the treatment of chronic neck pain: a three-year follow-up study. Europa Medicophysica. 2007 Jun;43(2):161–9. PubMed #17525699.
Tags: self-treatment, strength, exercise, good news, neck, classics, stretch, treatment, head/neck, spine, muscle

PainSci summary of Ylinen 2007?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

There are only a handful studies of long-term strength training for neck pain: two by this research group (Ylinen 2003, Ylinen 2006), plus their three-year follow-up to the first. They found that a year of regular neck strength or endurance training meaningfully reduced pain and disability. These benefits were sustained for three years in over a hundred women, even though many people didn’t continue training after the first year.

There are only a handful of other studies of exercise for neck pain, which have all failed to detect any of lasting benefit to exercise for neck pain. The results of these studies suggest that “most training studies seem to have been too short-term producing notable physiological changes.” But duration is the key, not intensity: “a relatively small training load is high enough to reduce these changes, as there was no significant difference between the strength and endurance training groups with regard to the primary outcomes,” pain and disability.

Although these results are certainly good news, it’s important to keep in mind that not all patients improved completely, and even those who did achieve lasting had to exercise diligently for a year (although six months might have done the trick, we can’t tell from this data). So strengthening is not a reliable or easy fix for neck pain (the efficacy vs. effectiveness problem strongly applies, see Beedie).

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

AIM: The objective of the trial was to evaluate whether the positive results achieved with a one-year training regimen in patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain would have long-standing effects.

METHODS: A follow-up study of two neck muscle training groups after a randomized controlled study was carried out. One-hundred and eighteen women included were those who had performed neck strength and endurance exercises in a previous randomised controlled trial. The primary outcome measures were neck pain measured by the visual analogue scale and disability indices. Isometric neck strength, range of motion (ROM) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) were measured and training frequency for the previous month elicited by a questionnaire.

RESULTS: At the 3-year follow-up, neck pain and the disability indices showed no statistically discernible change compared to the situation at the 12-month follow-up. Also, gains in neck strength, ROM and PPT achieved during the training year were largely maintained. However, adherence to the specific home training program faltered considerably.

CONCLUSION: The improvements achieved through long-term training were maintained at the 3-year follow-up. Since a 12-month exercise programme shows a long-term effect, exercise may not need to be performed regularly for the remainder of the subject's life.

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These five articles on cite Ylinen 2007 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog.