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Jun 14

Manual Therapy as Effective as PT for Neck Pain

by Dr. Pete Ahlers-Nelson, D.C., Blog, No Comments

Jun 14

Neck pain…anyone that’s experienced this saga knows it’s not pleasant.

And neck trauma is even worse.

Been in a car accident?

Injured during an athletic event?

Slipped on the pavement and suffered a concussion?

If so, there’s a very good chance you’ve had some lingering neck issues. Perhaps they’re even chronic at this point.

And, there’s also a good chance you’ve reached out to a physical therapist (PT), in your quest to relieve that pain. I mean, you realized a while ago that this thing isn’t going away on its own.

Thus, you sought out external help in the form of PT.

And that’s understandable.

But a new study, one published in the peer-reviewed journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, suggests you have another choice—a more cost-effective choice:

Manual therapy.

Defining Manual Therapy

What is manual therapy, also known as “manipulative therapy”?

According to School of Manual Therapy Utrecht (MTU), manual therapy is “a specific type of passive manual joint mobilization.” It involves three forms of therapy: manipulation; mobilization; and massage.

The manipulation branch is…

Chiropractic care.

Manual Therapy As Effective As PT for Neck Pain

Now, back to the study.

Researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands set out to investigate manual therapy’s effectiveness, in relation to PT, for chronic neck pain.

Scientists studied 181 individuals, aged 18-70. All suffered from chronic neck pain. The trial lasted one year. It saw one half of the participants received regular physical therapy for their neck pain, while the other half received regular manual therapy sessions.

Outcomes were measured using industry-standard surveys, including the Neck Disability Index and the Numeric Rating Scale for Pain. Outcomes were measured at three, seven, 13, 26, and 52 weeks.

Researchers found no significant overall difference between the two groups at the one-year mark.


What’s this Mean?

In a nutshell, this means manual therapy is every bit as effective for chronic neck pain as is physical therapy.

For less money.

And manual therapy begins with…

Chiropractic care.

This article is posted with express written permission from


Dr. Pete’s two cents:

Chiropractic or PT?  That is the question right?  I don’t see it as one or the other necessary.  Chiropractic adjustments on a regular basis always and sometimes you need to add PT in particular situations, massage, acupuncture, etc.  I have seen clients I have been adjusting on a regular basis helped quite a bit by a little PT.  Now they still need to get adjusted, but having stronger muscles (especially the muscles that move the vertebrae), means they may not have to get adjusted as often.  Don’t eliminate your adjustments because you are going to a PT and don’t think the PT that dabbles in “manipulating” your spine will do as good a job as someone like myself that only adjusts the spine.  Many times, it’s not one or the other.  We all just do different things.  A PT does different things than a dentist, massage therapist, or a chiropractor.  That is all.

-Dr. Peter Ahlers-Nelson, D.C.

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