Can Neck Exercises Help With Depression?

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A recent study in the Physiotherapy Research International: the Journal for Researchers and Clinicians in Physical Therapy 2018 March 14, showed that patients suffering from neck pain reported a decrease in their depression symptoms after performing neck exercises.

The study decided patients suffering from neck pain into three groups. The group that received the deep neck flexion exercises reported improvement in their neck pain as well as a clinically relevant improvement in their depression and anxiety.

Below is an example of deep neck flexor muscle training exercises. More examples can be found here.

 

Cervical flexor muscle training reduces pain, anxiety, and depression levels in patients with chronic neck pain by a clinically important amount: A prospective cohort study.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability in the United States and exerts an important socio-economic burden around the world. The aims of this study were to determine the effectiveness of deep and superficial flexor muscle training in addition to home-based exercises in reducing chronic neck pain and anxiety/depression levels.

METHODS:

This was a prospective cohort study. Patients between 18 and 65 years old with chronic neck pain were eligible to participate if they had disability levels at least 5 out of 50 on the Neck Disability Index. Patients were divided into three groups: Group A received deep neck flexor and home-based exercises; Group B received superficial muscle and home-based exercises; and Group C received home-based exercises only. The Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS), Neck Disability Index, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were administered at baseline and 7 weeks later.

RESULTS:

The highest improvements in pain intensity levels were observed in Group A with 4.75 (1.74) NPRS points, and the lowest were in Group C with 1.00 (1.10). The highest reductions in anxiety and depression levels were noted in Group A (2.80) and Group B (1.65), respectively. The highest improvements in pain intensity levels were observed among Groups A versus C with 2.80 (0.52) NPRS. The highest reductions in anxiety and depression levels were noted among Groups A versus C with 1.75 (1.10) points and Groups B versus C with 1.60 (0.90) points, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

Deep and superficial flexor muscle training along with home-based exercises is likely to reduce chronic neck pain and anxiety/depression levels by a clinically relevant amount. Future larger scaled randomized controlled trials are warranted to further support these findings.

KEYWORDS:

anxiety; cervical training; depression; pain

PMID:
29536618
DOI:
10.1002/pri.1712

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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