OBJECTIVE: To review the literature pertaining to neck/shoulder pain and its treatment primarily through rehabilitation. A discussion regarding the theoretical basis for clinical rehabilitation is presented.
DATA SOURCE: A Medline literature search was performed. English and Scandinavian language articles were reviewed. Key words included neck/shoulder pain, neck pain, rehabilitation and exercise.
STUDY SELECTION: The studies included used rehabilitation of the cervical musculature as the main treatment therapy on patients suffering from neck/shoulder pain as defined by the Standardized Nordic Questionnaires.
DATA SYNTHESIS: The relatively new concept of neck/shoulder rehabilitation seems to result in pain reduction, restoration of functional values and psychological benefit for patients suffering from chronic, recurrent, post-traumatic or postoperative neck/shoulder pain. Successful protocols seem to be dependent upon sufficient dosage, duration and a relative disregard of pain. Side effects seem to be rare.
CONCLUSIONS: Rehabilitation of patients with neck/shoulder pain offers great promise; sufficient documentation exists to warrant serious consideration from all practitioners in the primary health sector. Future studies will be necessary to further clarify which rehabilitative procedures are most suitable for different patient types.
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