Strength Training Eases Chronic Neck Pain

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Strength training exercises can help relieve chronic neck pain, says a Danish study in the January issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Previous studies have produced conflicting findings about whether exercise can help treat neck pain, but there hasn't been enough high-quality research to draw firm conclusions, according to background information in this new study.

The Danish researchers found that specific strength training exercises produced prolonged relief of neck muscle pain, but general fitness training led to only a small reduction in neck pain.

The study included 94 women with chronic neck pain who did assembly line or office work -- 79 percent of them used a keyboard for more than three-quarters of their working time. The women were assigned to one of three groups: supervised specific strength training (SST) exercises for the neck and shoulder muscles; high-intensity general fitness training (GFT) on a bicycle ergometer; or health counseling but no physical training.

The women in the two exercise groups worked out for 20 minutes three times a week for 10 weeks. Those in the SST group showed a marked decrease in neck pain with a lasting effect after the training ended, while those in the GFT group showed a small temporary decrease in neck pain after exercise.

"Thus specific strength training locally of the neck and shoulder muscles is the most beneficial treatment in women with chronic neck muscle pain," the study authors concluded.

More information

The American College of Rheumatology has more about neck pain.

SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, Jan. 4, 2008

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