Short-term effects of kinesio taping versus cervical thrust manipulation in patients with mechanical neck pain: A randomized clinical trial

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STUDY DESIGN: Randomized clinical trial. OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of cervical spine thrust manipulation to that of Kinesio Taping applied to the neck in individuals with mechanical neck pain, using self-reported pain and disability and cervical range of motion as measures. BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of cervical manipulation has received considerable attention in the literature. However, because some patients cannot tolerate cervical thrust manipulation, alternative therapeutic options should be investigated. METHODS: Eighty patients (36 women) were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: the manipulation group, which received 2 cervical thrust manipulations, and the tape group, which received Kinesio Taping applied to the neck. Neck pain (11-point numeric pain rating scale), disability (Neck Disability Index), and cervical-range-of-motion data were collected at baseline and 1 week after the intervention by an assessor blinded to the treatment allocation of the patients. Mixed-model analyses of variance were used to examine the effects of the treatment on each outcome variable, with group as the between-subjects variable and time as the within-subjects variable. The primary analysis was the group-by-time interaction. RESULTS: No significant group-by-time interactions were found for pain (F = 1.892, P = .447) or disability (F = 0.115, P = .736). The group-by-time interaction was statistically significant for right (F = 7.317, P = .008) and left (F = 9.525, P = .003) cervical rotation range of motion, with the patients who received the cervical thrust manipulation having experienced greater improvement in cervical rotation than those treated with Kinesio Tape (P<.01). No significant group-by-time interactions were found for cervical spine range of motion for flexion (F = 0.944, P = .334), extension (F = 0.122, P = .728), and right (F = 0.220, P = .650) and left (F = 0.389, P = .535) lateral flexion. CONCLUSION: Patients with mechanical neck pain who received cervical thrust manipulation or Kinesio Taping exhibited similar reductions in neck pain intensity and disability and similar changes in active cervical range of motion, except for rotation. Changes in neck pain surpassed the minimal clinically important difference, whereas changes in disability did not. Changes in cervical range of motion were small and not clinically meaningful. Because we did not include a control or placebo group in this study, we cannot rule out a placebo effect or natural changes over time as potential reasons for the improvements measured in both groups. Copyright © 2012 Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.

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