Exercise programs may be effective in preventing a new episode of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Tarcisio F. de Campos, Christopher Maher, Daniel Steffens, Joel Fuller, Mark Hancock

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    42 Citations (Scopus)
    249 Downloads (Pure)


    Question: What is the effectiveness of interventions that aim to prevent a new episode of neck pain?
    Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised, controlled trials.
    Participants: People without neck pain at study entry.
    Intervention: Any intervention aiming to prevent a future episode of neck pain.
    Outcome measures: New episode of neck pain.
    Results: Five trials including a total of 3852 individuals met the inclusion criteria. The pooled results from two randomised, controlled trials (500 participants) found moderate-quality evidence that exercise reduces the risk of a new episode of neck pain (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.86). One of the meta-analysed trials included some co-interventions with the exercise. There was low-quality evidence from three randomised, controlled trials (3352 participants) that ergonomic programs do not reduce the risk of a new neck pain episode (OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.35).
    Conclusion: This review found moderate-quality evidence supporting the effectiveness of an exercise program for reducing the risk of a new episode of neck pain. There is a need for high-quality randomised, controlled trials evaluating interventions to prevent new episodes of neck pain.
    Registration: PROSPERO CRD42017055174.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)159-165
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Physiotherapy
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2018 Australian Physiotherapy Association. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • neck pain
    • prevention
    • randomised controlled trial
    • systematic review
    • meta-analysis


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