Background Neck pain is a common occurrence and affects about 70% of individuals at some point in their lives. It is a frequent source of disability and a key reason for seeking medical attention. The Pilates method, a physical activity program that aims for body awareness through the harmonization of body and mind, has been widely used to improve physical fitness and rehabilitation in general. Although the symptoms of neck pain are common in the population, there is very little literature on the effectiveness of the Pilates method as treatment for neck pain.
Objectives The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of the Pilates method on lessening the pain and improving function and quality of life, as well as reducing the consumption of analgesic in patients with mechanical-postural neck pain.
Methods Sixty-four patients diagnosed with mechanical-postural neck pain were selected. The selection criteria were the following: Individuals complaining of neck pain for a period over three months, both genders, ages between 18 and 65. All individuals diagnosed with the following were excluded: fibromyalgia, traumatic spinal injuries, infections and inflammation of the cervical spine, cervical pain radiating to the upper limbs, those who initiated or changed their physical activity regimen in the three months prior to the study, individuals with visual deficiency not corrected by the use of glasses and those who presented diseases of the central nervous system. Patients were randomized into two groups: Pilates (PG) and control (CG). PG attended two sessions of Pilates per week, for 12 weeks. CG remained on the waiting list for Pilates. Both were instructed to use acetaminophen 750 mg every six hours for the pain, and the consumption of the drug was controlled. Both groups were assessed for pain (numerical pain scale - NPS), function (Neck Disability Index - NDI) and quality of life (SF-36). This was a single blind evaluation at baseline (T0), 45 days (T45), 90 days (T90) and 180 (T180) days after the start of the study.
Results Thirty-two patients were randomized in each group. Initially they were homogeneous in relation to demographics and clinical characteristics. The only exception was the body mass index (BMI), with the PG showing higher BMI than the CG. Regarding the assessment between groups over time (ANOVA), statistical differences were identified for pain (p<0.001), function (p<0.001) and the SF-36 functional capacity (p=0.019), pain (p<0.001), general health (p=0.022), vitality (p<0.001), mental health (p=0.012), with the PG constantly achieving the best results. The consumption of pain medication was lower among those in the PG than in the CG (p=0.037).
Conclusions The Pilates method is effective in the treatment of chronic mechanical-postural neck pain, presenting improvement in the levels of pain, function, quality of life (functional capacity, pain, general health, vitality and mental health) and reducing the consumption of analgesics.
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Acknowledgements Thanks CAPES for granting a scholarship to Luciana de Araujo Cazotti.
Disclosure of Interest None declared