I hear this question quite often for just about every ache and pain you can imagine. Many people want miraculous answers or miracle treatments. I find that most of us don’t really want the simple answer.
Many times the simple answer requires a change on the patients part. And not just a month long change, but a lifelong change. This is a wee bit harder to accept.
For low back pain, it would seem that moving around more and exercise is intuitively a good idea. And sure enough, studies on exercise and yoga have proven to help chronic low back pain sufferers as well as patients in my office that are more active. I always say that couch potatoes are much harder to fix than athletes.
But if exercise is good for low back pain, what about neck pain? In 2008, the worldwide Neck Pain Task Force took a very hard look at the evidence surrounding neck pain (causes, prognosis, treatments) and determined that exercise was a strong recommendation for whiplash associated neck pain, but there was not enough evidence at the time to make a judgment call on exercise for other types of neck pain.
This particular study is a new look, done by the same group, at research that has been done in the past decade on exercise for other types of neck pain. Here’s what they found:
- Supervised qigong and Iyengar yoga were helpful for the management of persistent neck pain.
- In addition, therapies combining strengthening, range of motion, and flexibility are also effective for the management of persistent neck pain.
Qigong is of Chinese origin and has its roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy. There are similarities to Tai-chi, although Tai-chi’s forms are generally considered more complex.
Iyengar yoga is a form of yoga derived from Hatha yoga.
While you may not practice either of these, keep in mind that these are the types of exercise that the joint task force found evidence for, but you can rest assured that all forms of exercise are going to be beneficial for neck pain. Movement is good. Sitting on the couch or spending hours of the computer is not.