Qigong and Exercise Therapy in Patients With Long-term Neck Pain: A Prospective Randomized Trial


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Abstract

Study Design.A randomized, controlled, multicenter trial: 1-year follow-up.Objective.To compare the effectiveness of qigong and exercise therapy in subjects with long-term nonspecific neck pain.Summary of Background Data.The evidence for the benefit of treatment programs focusing on persons with long-term, nonspecific neck pain is conflicting. Several studies have shown support for exercise therapy, but the efficacy of qigong has not been scientifically evaluated.Methods.A total of 122 patients were randomly assigned to receive either qigong (n = 60) or exercise therapy (n = 62). Most of them were women (70%), and the mean age was 44 years. A maximum of 12 treatments were given over a period of 3 months. Neck pain frequency and intensity, neck disability (NDI), grip strength, and cervical range of motion were recorded before and immediately after, at 6 months, and at 12 months after the treatment period. Changes in outcome variables were analyzed and dichotomized as improved or unchanged/deteriorated.Results.Clinical and demographic characteristics were similar among groups at baseline. No differences were found between the 2 interventions: qigong and exercise therapy. Both groups significantly improved immediately after treatment and this was maintained at the 6- and 12-month follow-ups in 5 of 8 outcome variables: average neck pain in the most recent week, current neck pain (with exception for immediately after treatment period), neck pain diary, NDI, and cervical range of motion in rotation.Conclusion.These results indicate that treatments including supervised qigong or exercise therapy resulting in reduced pain and disability can be recommended for persons with long-term nonspecific neck pain.

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