Simple exercises you can do at home are faster, cheaper, and better for you than taking pills to manage neck pain, suggests a new study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Most people experience neck pain at some point in their lives; sedentary office workers tend to be the most susceptible.
Researchers at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota recently compared how well three different treatments reduced neck pain: spinal manipulation by a chiropractor, home exercises, and the use of medication. The study involved just under 300 people insured by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota who reported having neck pain of no discernible cause for between two and 12 weeks.
Chiropractic adjustment and home exercises offered superior pain relief to medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, muscle relaxants, or even stronger narcotic medicines.
About 80 percent of patients receiving chiropractic adjustments or performing home exercises had their neck pain reduced by half after 12 weeks – compared to 70 percent of those taking medicine alone. And 30 percent of the exercise/chiropractic patients experienced a complete reduction in neck pain, compared to 13 percent of the medication-only group.
Of the home exercises, neck retraction – in which the head is pulled back, chicken style, with the chin tilted downward – seemed to be especially useful, said the study’s lead author Gert Bronfort, vice president of research at the university. Study participants performed five to 10 repetitions of the exercises several times a day.