Qigong and exercise therapy in patients with long-term neck pain: a prospective randomized trial

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007 Oct 15;32(22):2415-22. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181573b4b.


Study design: A randomized, controlled, multicenter trial: 1-year follow-up.

Objective: To compare the effectiveness of qigong and exercise therapy in subjects with long-term nonspecific neck pain.

Summary of background data: The evidence for the benefit of treatment programs focusing on persons with long-term, nonspecific neck pain is conflicting. Several studies have shown support for exercise therapy, but the efficacy of qigong has not been scientifically evaluated.

Methods: A total of 122 patients were randomly assigned to receive either qigong (n = 60) or exercise therapy (n = 62). Most of them were women (70%), and the mean age was 44 years. A maximum of 12 treatments were given over a period of 3 months. Neck pain frequency and intensity, neck disability (NDI), grip strength, and cervical range of motion were recorded before and immediately after, at 6 months, and at 12 months after the treatment period. Changes in outcome variables were analyzed and dichotomized as improved or unchanged/deteriorated.

Results: Clinical and demographic characteristics were similar among groups at baseline. No differences were found between the 2 interventions: qigong and exercise therapy. Both groups significantly improved immediately after treatment and this was maintained at the 6- and 12-month follow-ups in 5 of 8 outcome variables: average neck pain in the most recent week, current neck pain (with exception for immediately after treatment period), neck pain diary, NDI, and cervical range of motion in rotation.

Conclusion: These results indicate that treatments including supervised qigong or exercise therapy resulting in reduced pain and disability can be recommended for persons with long-term nonspecific neck pain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / standards
  • Exercise Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time
  • Treatment Outcome