The National Institute of Health's National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine funded a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches for the treatment of mechanical neck pain. This study of treatment methods for cervical pain was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 272 patients with neck pain were divided into 3 separate treatment groups. The patients ranged in age from 18 to 72 years old. The first group received spinal manipulative therapy or adjustments from a doctor of chiropractic The second group was treated with over-the-counter pain medications, narcotics like OxyContin and muscle relaxers. The third group was give recommendation for exercises to treat their neck pain.
The patients were examined after 12 weeks of treatment. 57 percent of group treated with chiropractic adjustments reported at least a 75 percent reduction in their neck pain. 48 percentage of the group treated with exercises reported at least a 75 percent improvement in their neck pain. Only 33 percent of the study group receiving medications reported a 75 percent improvement of their cervical pain after 12 weeks.
These neck pain patients were followed up after a year. Approximately 53 percent of the first two groups who were treated with exercises and chiropractic care continued to report at least a 75 percent reduction in their neck pain levels. Only 38 percent of the third group that was treated with medications reported a reduction in their neck pain of 75 percent or more at this one year follow up.The study authors concluded that spinal adjustments were more effective than medication for acute and sub-acute neck pain.