Background: Neck pain is a common problem within our society. Upper trapezius and the levator scapulae are the most common postural muscles that tends to get shorten leading to restricted neck mobility. If these group of muscles are treated it may provide with best results. There is lack of evidence to allow conclusions to be drawn about the effectiveness of Muscle energy technique (MET) when compared with stretching exercises for relieving mechanical neck pain. It would be interesting to study if these two techniques yield comparable outcomes and if one technique is superior to the next which should be the alternate choice of therapy
Objective: To evaluate the comparative effectiveness of Muscle energy technique and static stretching on pain and active cervical range of motion (ROM) in subacute mechanical neck pain
Subjects and methods: 45 patients with subacute mechanical neck pain were randomly assigned to receive Muscle Energy Technique plus conventional physiotherapy (group 1, n = 15), static stretching plus conventional exercise program (group 2, n = 15) and conventional physiotherapy only (group 3, n = 15).
Intervention: Group 1 received 6 sessions of Muscle Energy Technique and 10 sessions of conventional physiotherapy. Group 2 received 6 sessions of static stretching and 10 sessions of conventional physiotherapy. Group 3 received 10 sessions of conventional physiotherapy. All groups were treated for 2 weeks.
Outcome measures: Pain intensity on 100mm VAS, active cervical lateral flexion range of motion, active cervical rotation range of motion.
Results: Paired t-test was used for within group analysis. ANOVA followed by post hoc analysis was employed for between group comparisons. No significant difference was found in any of the outcome measure between MET and static stretching groups (p > 0.05) while both were found to be significantly better than the conventional exercise group (p < 0.05) between the 3 groups. Statistically significant improvements were found in all the 3 groups for all the outcome measures (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: This study concluded that both the treatment techniques, muscle energy technique and static stretching were effective in alleviating the mechanical neck pain in terms of decreasing pain intensity and increasing active cervical range of motion as there was no significant difference between the two groups, however MET was superior than static stretching in decreasing pain intensity and increasing active cervical range of motion.
Mechanical neck pain, Muscle energy technique, Static stretching