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.