Patients with chronic neck pain who receive physical therapy that includes general neck advice and/or an exercise program have similar reductions in pain when neck stabilization exercises are added to their PT program, says an article published in the February 1 issue (Vol 36, Issue 2) of Journal of Rheumatology.

This multicenter research was conducted in 4 physical therapy departments in the UK. 74 participants were randomized to specific neck stabilization exercises with a general neck advice and exercise program or a general neck advice and exercise program alone. Participants attended a 1-hour clinical examination, followed by a maximum of 4 treatment sessions. Assessments were undertaken at baseline, 6 weeks, and 6 months. The primary outcome was the Neck Pain and Disability Scale (NPDS). 

96% of participants received their allocated intervention. There was 91% followup at 6 weeks and 92% followup at 6 months. The mean 6-week improvement (reduction) in NPDS score was 10.6 for the specific exercise program and 9.3 for the general exercise program. For secondary outcomes, participants in the specific exercise group were less likely to be taking pain medication at 6-week followup (p = 0.02).