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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2018 Dec;34(12):916-925.
doi: 10.1080/09593985.2018.1430876. Epub 2018 Jan 24.

Effects of the Craniocervical Flexion and Isometric Neck Exercise Compared in Patients With Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Randomized Controlled Trial

Effects of the Craniocervical Flexion and Isometric Neck Exercise Compared in Patients With Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

SinHo Chung et al. Physiother Theory Pract. .

Abstract

Introduction: The present study compared the effects of neck isometric exercise (NIE) and craniocervical flexion exercise (CFE) on cervical lordosis, muscle endurance of cervical flexion, neck disability index (NDI), and active cervical range of motion (ACROM) in all three planes in patients with non-specific, chronic neck pain (CNP).

Materials and methods: Forty-one patients from a university hospital-based rehabilitation center were randomly assigned to an experimental (22 patients performing CFE) or control (19 patients performing NIE) group. All patients performed three 30-second repetitions of stretching exercises for the neck flexor, extensor, lateral flexor, and rotator as warm-up and cool-down exercises. The patients in the experimental group then underwent CFE 30 minutes/day, 3 times a week, for 8 weeks, while the control group underwent NIE. The main outcome measures were pain on visual analogue scale (VAS) and perceived disability based on the neck disability index (NDI). The secondary outcomes were cervical lordosis measured by an absolute rotation angle (ARA), muscle endurance of cervical flexion, and ACROM.

Results: Both groups showed improved pain, NDI, endurance of the cervical flexor muscles, and ACROM in all three planes after 8 weeks (p < 0.001 for all). All these outcomes, except for the NDI, showed significantly greater improvements following CFE than following NIE (p < 0.05 for all). In particular, a significantly improved ARA of cervical lordosis was found following CFE but not following NIE (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: CFE targeted at retraining the craniocervical flexor muscles was useful for improving or restoring the pain, cervical lordosis, and neck-related function disorders among patients with non-specific CNP.

Keywords: Craniocervical flexion exercise; cervical lordosis; chronic neck pain; muscular endurance.

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