Manual therapy is effective treatment for neck pain

April 24, 2003

Manual therapy is more effective and less costly for treating neck pain than physiotherapy or care by a general practitioner, claim researchers in this week's BMJ.

The study involved 183 patients recruited by 42 general practitioners in the Netherlands. All patients were aged 18-70 years and had suffered neck pain for at least two weeks. Sixty patients received manual therapy (spinal mobilisation), 59 received physiotherapy (mainly exercise), and 64 received standard care from a general practitioner (counselling, education, and drugs).

After 26 weeks, patients in the manual therapy group recovered more quickly than the physiotherapy group and the general practitioner care group, but differences were negligible by 52 weeks. The total costs of manual therapy were around one third of the costs in the other two groups.

"Our findings showed manual therapy to be more cost effective than physiotherapy and continued care provided by a general practitioner in the treatment of non-specific neck pain," conclude the authors.
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BMJ

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