Manual therapy and exercise for neck pain: a systematic review.
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Manual therapy is often used with exercise to treat neck pain. This cervical overview group systematic review update assesses if manual therapy, including manipulation or mobilisation, combined with exercise improves pain, function/disability, quality of life, global perceived effect, and patient satisfaction for adults with neck pain with or without cervicogenic headache or radiculopathy. Computerized searches were performed to July 2009. Two or more authors independently selected studies, abstracted data, and assessed methodological quality. Pooled relative risk (pRR) and standardized mean differences (pSMD) were calculated. Of 17 randomized controlled trials included, 29% had a low risk of bias. Low quality evidence suggests clinically important long-term improvements in pain (pSMD-0.87(95% CI: -1.69, -0.06)), function/disability, and global perceived effect when manual therapy and exercise are compared to no treatment. High quality evidence suggests greater short-term pain relief [pSMD-0.50(95% CI: -0.76, -0.24)] than exercise alone, but no long-term differences across multiple outcomes for (sub)acute/chronic neck pain with or without cervicogenic headache. Moderate quality evidence supports this treatment combination for pain reduction and improved quality of life over manual therapy alone for chronic neck pain; and suggests greater short-term pain reduction when compared to traditional care for acute whiplash. Evidence regarding radiculopathy was sparse. Specific research recommendations are made.
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