Wednesday, February 20, 2008

7-year neck pain study sheds light on best care

Alternative approaches to manage neck pain ...

"A seven-year, international study published today finds that some alternative therapies such as acupuncture, neck manipulation and massage are better choices for managing most common neck pain than many current practices. Also included in the short-list of best options for relief are exercises, education, neck mobilization, low level laser therapy and pain relievers.

Therapies such as neck collars and ultrasound are not recommended. The study found that corticosteroid injections and surgery should only be considered if there is associated pain, weakness or numbness in the arm, fracture or serious disease.

The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders 236 page review of the current research on neck pain is published in the journal Spine. The multi-national and inter-disciplinary study team included Canadian, American, South American, Australasian and European researchers. The Task Force was created to help neck pain sufferers and health professionals use the best research evidence to prevent, diagnose and manage neck pain.

"Neck pain is not a trivial condition for many people," says Task Force president Dr. Scott Haldeman, clinical professor, department of neurology at the University of California, Irvine; and adjunct professor, department of epidemiology University of California Los Angeles. "It can be associated with headaches, arm and upper back pain and depression. Whether it arises from sports injuries, car collisions, workplace issues or stress, it can be incapacitating. Understanding the best way to diagnose and manage this problem is of high importance for those who are suffering and for those who manage and pay for its care."

The study found that neck pain is a widespread experience that is a persistent and recurrent condition for the majority of sufferers. It is disabling for approximately two out of every 20 people who experience neck pain and affects their ability to carry on with daily activities says the Task Force.

A key recommendation of the Task Force is that neck pain, including whiplash-related pain, be classified and treated in a common system of 4 grades:

Grade 1: neck pain with little or no interference with daily activities
Grade 2: neck pain that limits daily activities
Grade 3: neck pain accompanied by radiculopathy ("pinched nerve" -- pain weakness and/or numbness in the arm)
Grade 4: neck pain with serious pathology, such as tumor, fracture, infection, or systemic disease."    (Continued via EurekaAlert)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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