Efficacy of the Alexander Technique in treating chronic non-specific neck pain: A randomized controlled trial

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Journal Article
Clinical Rehabilitation, 2016, 30 (3), pp. 247 - 258
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© SAGE Publications. Objective: To test the efficacy of the Alexander Technique, local heat and guided imagery on pain and quality of life in patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. Design: A randomized controlled trial with 3 parallel groups was conducted. Setting: Outpatient clinic, Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine. Subjects: A total of 72 patients (65 females, 40.7±7.9 years) with chronic non-specific neck pain. Interventions: Patients received 5 sessions of the Alexander Technique - an educational method which aims to modify dysfunctional posture, movement and thinking patterns associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Control groups were treated with local heat application or guided imagery. All interventions were conducted once a week for 45 minutes each. Main measures: The primary outcome measure at week 5 was neck pain intensity on a 100-mm visual analogue scale; secondary outcomes included neck disability, quality of life, satisfaction and safety. Statistics: Analyses of covariance were applied; testing ordered hypotheses. Results: No group difference was found for pain intensity for the Alexander Technique compared to local heat (difference 4.5mm; 95%CI:-8.1;17.1;p=0.48), but exploratory analysis revealed the superiority of the Alexander Technique over guided imagery (difference -12.9mm; 95%CI:-22.6;-3.1,p=0.01). Significant group differences in favor of the Alexander Technique were also found for physical quality of life (P<0.05). Adverse events mainly included slightly increased pain and muscle soreness. Conclusion: The Alexander Technique was not superior to local heat application in treating chronic non-specific neck pain. It cannot be recommended as routine intervention at this time. Further trials are warranted for conclusive judgment.
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