Effects of core stability exercise for patients with neck pain: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Nov;98(46):e17240. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017240.


Background: Neck pain is an important cause of disability. In spite of its high prevalence rate, treatment of the disorder is a challenging topic. Exercise therapy appears to be effective at decreasing pain and improving function for patients with NP in practice guidelines. Core stability exercise is becoming increasingly popular for NP. However, it is currently unknown whether core stability exercise produces more beneficial effects than general exercise in patients with NP. The aim of this study is to explore the therapeutic effect of core stability exercise for neck pain.

Methods: This review will only include randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Published articles from July 2009 to July 2019 will be identified using electronic searches. Search strategy will be performed in 3 English databases, 1 Chinese database, and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. Two reviewers will screen, select studies, extract data, and assess quality independently. The methodological quality including the risk of bias of the included studies will be evaluated using a modified assessment form, which is based on Cochrane assessment tool and Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale. Review Manager Software (Revman5.3) will be used for heterogeneity assessment, generating funnel-plots, data synthesis, subgroup analysis, and sensitivity analysis. We will use GRADE system to evaluate the quality of our evidence.

Results: We will provide some more practical and targeted results investigating the effect of Core Stability Exercise (CSE) for Neck Pain (NP) in the current meta-analysis. Meanwhile, we will ascertain study progress of Core Stability Exercise for Neck Pain and find out defects or inadequacies of previous studies, so that future researchers could get beneficial guidance for more rigorous study.

Conclusion: The stronger evidence about Neck Pain's rehabilitative effect and safety will be provided for clinicians and policymakers.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42017055711.

Ethics and dissemination: We do not apply for formal ethical approval from ethics committee because all of the study data in our review will be obtained in an anonymous way. Findings of this study are projected to be disseminated through peer-review publications.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Torso / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome