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Joint Bone Spine. 2013 Oct;80(5):508-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2012.10.006. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Systematic review of manual therapies for nonspecific neck pain.

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Société franco-européenne de chiropratique (SOFEC), 25, avenue du Raincy, 93250 Villemomble, France.



To evaluate the effectiveness of manual therapies in the treatment of nonspecific neck pain.


Medline and the Cochrane Library were searched for randomized controlled trials of manual therapy or mobilization, used alone or with exercises to treat pain and functional impairment related to nonspecific neck pain. Cochrane Back Review Group criteria were used to assess the quality of the trials and the level of evidence (unclear, limited, moderate, or high) for short-, medium-, and long-term effects.


Of 27 identified trials, 18 were of high quality. In acute neck pain, effective treatments were thoracic manipulation combined with electrothermal therapy in the short term and cervical manipulation in the long term. In chronic neck pain and neck pain of variable duration, both pain and function improved consistently at all follow-up time points. None of the manual therapies used alone or in combination was superior over the others. In the long term, exercises alone or combined with manual therapies were superior over manual therapies used alone.


Manual therapies contribute usefully to the management of nonspecific neck pain. The level of evidence is moderate for short-term effects of upper thoracic manipulation in acute neck pain, limited for long-term effects of neck manipulation, and limited for all techniques and follow-up durations in chronic neck pain.


Manipulation; Manual therapy; Mobilization; Neck pain; Systematic review

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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