Preliminary evidence for feasibility, efficacy, and mechanisms of Alexander technique group classes for chronic neck pain

Complement Ther Med. 2018 Aug;39:80-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.05.012. Epub 2018 May 23.

Abstract

Objectives: To determine feasibility and potential of Alexander technique (AT) group classes for chronic neck pain and to assess changes in self-efficacy, posture, and neck muscle activity as potential mechanisms for pain reduction.

Design: A single-group, multiple-baseline design, with two pre-tests to control for regression toward the mean, a post-test immediately after the intervention, and another post-test five weeks later to examine retention of benefits. Participants were predominately middle-aged; all had experienced neck pain for at least six months.

Intervention: Participants attended ten one-hour group classes in AT, an embodied mindful approach that may reduce habitual overactivation of muscles, including superficial neck muscles, over five weeks.

Outcome measures: (1) self-reports: Northwick Park Questionnaire (to assess neck pain and associated disability) and Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire; (2) superficial neck flexor activation and fatigue (assessed by electromyography and power spectral analysis) during the cranio-cervical flexion test; (3) posture during a video game task.

Results: There were no significant changes in outcomes between pre-tests. All participants completed the intervention. After the intervention: (1) participants reported significantly reduced neck pain; (2) fatigue of the superficial neck flexors during the cranio-cervical flexion test was substantially lower; (3) posture was marginally more upright, as compared to the second pre-intervention values. Changes in pain, self-efficacy, and neck muscle fatigue were retained at the second post-test and tended to be correlated with one another.

Conclusions: Group AT classes may provide a cost-effective approach to reducing neck pain by teaching participants to decrease excessive habitual muscle contraction during everyday activity.

Keywords: CCFT; Cranio-cervical flexion test; Electromyography; Neck muscle fatigue; Neck pain; Rehabilitation; Self-efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Mindfulness*
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Range of Motion, Articular