The effectiveness of a neck and shoulder stretching exercise program among office workers with neck pain: a randomized controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2016 Jan;30(1):64-72. doi: 10.1177/0269215515575747. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


Objective: To determine the effectiveness of neck and shoulder stretching exercises for relief neck pain among office workers.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: An outpatient setting.

Participants: A total of 96 subjects with moderate-to-severe neck pain (visual analogue score ⩾5/10) for ⩾3 months.

Interventions: All participants received an informative brochure indicating the proper position and ergonomics to be applied during daily work. The treatment group received the additional instruction to perform neck and around shoulder stretching exercises two times/day, five days/week during four weeks.

Main outcomes: Pain, neck functions, and quality of life were evaluated at baseline and week 4 using pain visual analogue scale, Northwick Park Neck Pain Questionnaire, and Short Form-36, respectively.

Results: Both groups had comparable baseline data. All outcomes were improved significantly from baseline. When compared between groups, the magnitude of improvement was significantly greater in the treatment group than in the control group (-1.4; 95% CI: -2.2, -0.7 for visual analogue scale; -4.8; 95% CI: -9.3, -0.4 for Northwick Park Neck Pain Questionnaire; and 14.0; 95% CI: 7.1, 20.9 for physical dimension of the Short Form-36). Compared with the patients who performed exercises <3 times/week, those who exercised ⩾3 times/week yielded significantly greater improvement in neck function and physical dimension of quality of life scores (p = 0.005 and p = 0.018, respectively).

Conclusion: A regular stretching exercise program performed for four weeks can decrease neck and shoulder pain and improve neck function and quality of life for office workers who have chronic moderate-to-severe neck or shoulder pain.

Keywords: Neck and shoulder pain; exercise program; office workers; stretching.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / psychology
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reference Values
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnosis
  • Shoulder Pain / psychology
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Taiwan
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Workplace