New research published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases concludes that men with chronic neck pain (CNP) can benefit from aerobic exercise as a component of their pain management therapy, and that women with CNP can similarly benefit from whole body strength training in addition to neck muscle strengthening. The study recommends that clinicians consider physical conditioning, as well as anxiety, depression, and gender difference when determining pain management strategies for patients with CNP presentations.
A total of 80 patients with CNP and 80 control subjects participated in the study, with an even distribution of men and women in each group. Women with CNP performed significantly worse than controls on handgrip and back-leg strength tests and they had significantly lower pressure pain detection thresholds in the suboccipital and paraspinal-C7 sites. This suggests the need for muscle strengthening to include the whole body and not just the neck. For men with CNP, the greatest impairments were seen in aerobic exercise capacity, level of obesity and sleep quality. A news story about the study may be read here.