Comparison the Effect of Pain Neuroscience and Pain Biomechanics Education on Neck Pain and Fear of Movement in Patients with Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pain Ther. 2022 Jun;11(2):601-611. doi: 10.1007/s40122-022-00371-3. Epub 2022 Mar 21.


Introduction: Self-management education is the basis of any intervention for persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Given the biopsychosocial nature of chronic musculoskeletal pain, an educational approach based on the biopsychosocial model would seem to be an appropriate educational model for the treatment of these people during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The aim of this study was to compare the effect of pain neuroscience education (PNE) and pain biomechanics education, using online and face-to-face sessions on pain and fear of movement, in people with chronic nonspecific neck pain during COVID-19.

Methods: In this multicenter assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial, 80 patients (both male and female) with chronic nonspecific neck pain (based on the inclusion criteria of the study) participated in educational sessions (face-to-face and online) from the beginning September until the end of October 2021. The participants were randomly divided into two groups (through the selection of numbers from 1 to 80, hidden in a box), with one group receiving PNE (treatment group) and the other group receiving pain biomechanics education (control group). Pain and fear of movement before and after the intervention were measured on the Numerical Pain Rating Scale and the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia, respectively. A 2 × 2 variance analysis (treatment group × time) with a mixed-model design was applied to statistically analyze the data.

Results: No significant change in pain (P = 0.23) was observed between the two groups (P = 0.24, Cohen's d = 0.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] - 0.21 to 0.35), while changes in the fear of movement variable were reported to be significant (P = 0.04, Cohen's d = 0.34, 95% CI 0.11-0.51), in favor of PNE. Intra-group change was seen only in the PNE group for the fear of movement variable (P = 0.04; 14.28%↓).

Conclusion: In our study population PNE did not affect the pain index, leading to the conclusion that PNE should not be used as the only treatment, but possibly in combination with other active/passive therapy to enhance the results for patients with nonspecific chronic neck pain. Moreover, online treatment may help clinicians to increase their interaction with patients during COVID-19 lockdown.

Keywords: Kinesiophobia; Nonspecific neck pain; Pain; Pain neuroscience education.