Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Back Pain Health Center

Font Size

Manual Therapy Eases Neck Pain, Cheaply

Hands-On Approach Effective, and More Cost-Effective, than Traditional Treatments

WebMD Health News

April 24, 2003 - A hands-on approach to treating neck pain by manual therapy may help people get better faster and at a lower cost than more traditional treatments, according to a new study.

Neck pain and stiffness is a common health problem, especially among older adults, and affects between 10% and 15% of the population. Although the condition isn't life threatening, it does cause a great deal of pain and disability as well as loss of productivity due to worker absenteeism.

Researchers say a variety of approaches in treating neck pain have been studied with mixed results, but little is known about how the treatments compare in terms of cost as well as effectiveness in relieving neck pain.

In this study, published in the April 26 issue of the British Medical Journal, Dutch researchers compared the cost-effectiveness of treatment with manual therapy, traditional physical therapy, or medical care from a general practitioner among 183 people with neck pain. Costs included both direct health care costs of treatment, such as office visits and drugs, as well as indirect costs like worker absenteeism.

Manual therapy -- practiced in the U.S. by chiropractors, osteopaths, and some physical or massage therapists -- consisted of spinal mobilization of the neck through slow, steady manipulation of the neck muscles, pushing them to the limit of the person's range of motion for a maximum of six, 45-minute sessions.

Physical therapy involved individualized exercise therapy, such as active and passive relaxation exercises, stretching, and functional movement exercises in up to 12, 30-minute sessions.

Routine medical care provided by a general practitioner consisted of a standard consultation with advice about the causes of the condition and potential aggravators and recommendations for self care using heat application, ergonomic considerations, or home exercises. Follow up visits every two weeks were optional.

After seven and 26 weeks, the study found significant improvements in recovery rates in the manual therapy group compared to the others. For example, at week seven, 68% of the manual therapy group had recovered from their neck pain vs. 51% in the physical therapy group and 36% in the medical care group.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Woman holding lower back
Or is it another form of back pain?
Hand on back
See the myths vs. the facts.
Woman doing pilates
Good and bad exercises.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Use it to manage your pain.
Man with enhanced spinal column, rear view
pain in brain and nerves
Chronic Pain Healtcheck
Health Check
break at desk
Woman holding lower back
Weight Loss Surgery
lumbar spine
back pain