Exercise Programs Targeting Scapular Kinematics and Stability Are Effective in Decreasing Neck Pain: A Critically Appraised Topic

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Clinical Scenerio: Neck pain is a costly symptom in both civilian and military worlds. While traditional treatments include deep neck flexor stabilizing exercises, manual therapy, electrical therapy, and other nonsurgical interventions, scapular orientation and stability training has emerged as a possible tool to reduce neck pain severity. Methods that can be coached at a distance could be of value in virtual appointments or circumstances where access to a qualified manual therapist is limited. Focused Clinical Question: What is the effectiveness of including exercise programs targeting scapular kinematics and stability to decrease neck pain? Summary of Key Findings: Exercise programs targeting scapular kinematics and stability, with coaching and individualized progressions, appear to reduce neck pain severity. Clinical Bottom Line: Evidence supports the inclusion of exercises for scapular kinematics and stability at a prescription of 3 sessions per week, with a duration of 4 or 6 weeks. Exercise programs should include a “learning” or coaching phase to ensure exercises are performed as intended, and exercise progressions should be based on participant ability rather than predetermined timelines. Further research is needed to better understand the benefits of this potential strategy and the statistical impact of scapular-focused exercise interventions on neck pain in specific populations like military and athletes. Strength of Recommendation: There is ‘Fair’ to ‘Good’ evidence from 2 level 1b single-blind randomized control studies and 1 level 2b pre-post test control design study supporting the inclusion of exercise programs targeting scapular kinematics and stability to decrease chronic neck pain severity.

Edwards (Cedward5@uottawa.ca) is with Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, IL, USA; and the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

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