Exercise Science and Sport Management
Background: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of specific neck muscle training and general neck-shoulder exercises on neck proprioception, pain, and disability in patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. Methods: Twenty-five patients with chronic non-specific neck pain were recruited into this preliminary single-blinded randomized clinical trial. They were randomly assigned to either a specific neck exercise (n = 13, mean aged 24 years) or a general neck exercise group (n = 12, mean aged 25 years). Specific neck exercises included eye-head coordination and isometric deep neck muscle exercises. General neck exercises included neck and shoulder free range of motion and shoulder shrug. Pain, disability, and neck proprioception, which was determined using the joint repositioning error, were measured at baseline and after eight weeks of training in both groups. Results: Both training groups showed significant improvements in joint repositioning error (p < 0.001, F = 24.144, ES = 0.8), pain (p < 0.001, F = 61.118, ES = 0.31), and disability (p = 0.015, F = 6.937, ES = 0.60). However, the specific neck exercise group showed larger variability in joint repositioning error (p = 0.006, F = 0.20, F critical = 0.36). Conclusions: Either specific neck exercise or a general neck-shoulder range of motion exercise could be effective in improving neck proprioception. Therefore, exercises could be recommended based on patient comfort and patients’ specific limitations.
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