Thermotherapy Plus Neck Stabilization Exercise for Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain in Elderly: A Single-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 1;17(15):5572. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17155572.


Neck pain is a serious problem for public health. This study aimed to compare the effects of thermotherapy plus neck stabilization exercise versus neck stabilization exercise alone on pain, neck disability, muscle properties, and alignment of the neck and shoulder in the elderly with chronic nonspecific neck pain. This study is a single-blinded randomized controlled trial. Thirty-five individuals with chronic nonspecific neck pain were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 18) or control (n = 17) groups. The intervention group received thermotherapy with a salt-pack for 30 min and performed a neck stabilization exercise for 40 min twice a day for 5 days (10 sessions). The control group performed a neck stabilization exercise at the same time points. Pain intensity, pain pressure threshold (PPT), neck disability index, muscle properties, and alignment of the neck and shoulder were evaluated before and after the intervention. Significant time and group interactions were observed for pain at rest (p < 0.001) and during movement (p < 0.001), and for PPT at the upper-trapezius (p < 0.001), levator-scapula (p = 0.003), and splenius-capitis (p = 0.001). The disability caused by neck pain also significantly changed between groups over time (p = 0.005). In comparison with the control group, the intervention group showed significant improvements in muscle properties for the upper-trapezius (tone, p = 0.021; stiffness, p = 0.017), levator-scapula (stiffness, p = 0.025; elasticity, p = 0.035), and splenius-capitis (stiffness, p = 0.012), and alignment of the neck (p = 0.016) and shoulder (p < 0.001) over time. These results recommend the clinical use of salt pack thermotherapy in addition to neck stabilization exercise as a complementary intervention for chronic nonspecific neck pain control.

Keywords: neck stabilization exercise; nonspecific neck pain; salt pack; thermotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Neck Pain* / therapy
  • Pain Measurement