Effects of an active intervention based on myofascial release and neurodynamics in patients with chronic neck pain: a randomized controlled trial

Physiother Theory Pract. 2022 Sep;38(9):1145-1152. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2020.1821418. Epub 2020 Sep 15.


Background: While neck pain can be severely disabling and costly, treatment options have shown moderate evidence of effectiveness.

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the effects of a 4-week active program based on myofascial release and neurodynamics on trigger point (TrP) examination, pain, and functionality in patients with chronic neck pain.

Methods: Randomized controlled trial. A total of 40 patients with chronic neck pain were randomly allocated to an experimental or a control group (n = 20). The primary outcome measure was TrP examination. Secondary outcomes were pain, assessed with the Brief Pain Inventory and a visual analogue scale, and functionality, evaluated with the Neck Outcome Score.

Results: A between-group analysis showed significant differences (p < .05) in the percentage of active TrPs in the following muscles: suboccipital (50 vs. 92.4% in the right muscle and 37.5 vs. 89.6% in the left muscle), left scalene and levator scapulae. Significant differences (p < .05) were also found in pain severity, average pain, and functionality (i.e. symptoms, sleep, and participation).

Conclusions: A 4-week self-administered program for patients with chronic neck pain was effective in reducing the presence of active TrPs. Pain severity, average pain, and some aspects of functionality also improved significantly after the intervention.

Keywords: Exercise movement techniques; neck pain; physical therapy modalities; soft tissue therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes* / diagnosis
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes* / therapy
  • Myofascial Release Therapy
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / therapy
  • Trigger Points