The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, tracked 272 patients with recent-onset neck pain who were treated using three different methods:
After 12 weeks the patients who used a chiropractor or exercised were more than twice as likely to be pain free compared to those who relied on medicine.
The patients treated by a chiropractor experienced the highest rate of success with 32 percent saying they were pain free, compared to 30 percent of those who exercised. Only 13 percent of patients treated with medication said they no longer experienced pain.
"Doesn't surprise me a bit," Dr. Lee Green, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan told ABC News. "Neck pain is a mechanical problem, and it makes sense that mechanical treatment works better than a chemical one."
Dr. John Messmer who specializes in family medicine at Penn State College of Medicine agrees.
"I always prescribe exercises and/or physical therapy for neck pain," he wrote. "I also tell patients that the exercises are the treatment and the drugs are for the symptoms."
The exercises prescribed to patients in the study were simple and designed to be performed at home with the help of instructional photos.