Manual Therapy: Neck Pain
This systematic review evaluated the evidences supporting the effectiveness of manual therapy (mobilizations & manipulations) for neck pain; out of 197 citations, 7 RCTs were included.
Conclusions #1: Manual therapy is effective for relieving neck pain in the short and long term
Conclusions #2: Manual therapy is not superior to independent exercise therapies provided by PTs with respect to pain and disability for acute and chronic neck pain
So what can we learn from all these studies?
Mobilizations & manipulations are a great adjunct to other physiotherapy interventions but perhaps for better long term recovery, focus should be on prescribing independent exercises.
Personal opinion: If patients have central sensitization, manual therapy may even be harmful as it promotes further passive coping skills.
Reference: Schroeder J et al The outcomes of manipulation or mobilization therapy compared with physical therapy or exercise for neck pain: a systematic review. Evid Based Spine Care J. 2013 Apr;4(1):30-41.