The Effect of Different Exercise Programs on Size and Function of Deep Cervical Flexor Muscles in Patients With Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

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BackgroundNeck pain is one of the major public health problems, which has a great impact on people's lives.ObjectivesThe purpose of this study was to systematically review published studies conducted on the effect of different exercise programs on activity, size, endurance, and strength of deep cervical flexor (DCF) muscles in patients with chronic neck pain.MethodsThe PubMed, Science Direct, OVID, Google scholar, Cochrane Library, and Physiotherapy Evidence Databases were searched to determine relevant articles published from 1990 to March 2016. The articles were qualitatively assessed based on the Physiotherapy Evidence Databases scale for randomized controlled trials studies.ResultsNine articles were identified and evaluated in the final analysis. Four studies had moderate quality, and five studies had good quality. From those nine studies, eight studies gave support to the effectiveness of specific low-load exercise training on DCF muscles parameters, while one study reported no significant difference between this exercise and other cervical exercise programs.ConclusionThe results of reviewed studies are in favor of specific low-load craniocervical flexion exercise, which seems to be a highly effective exercise regimen compared to other types of exercises in improving DCF muscles impairments in patients with chronic neck pain.

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