Why a Tailored Treatment Plan May Help Your Neck Pain

When you receive a prescription for a chronic pain medication, your doctor may tell you that you need to take a certain amount of the drug for a specified period of time.

Doctor with PatientHowever, a team of researchers in Italy is advocating for a slightly different approach. In a recent study, the researchers examined whether a patient-oriented therapeutic approach—an approach in which the amount of treatment you need is determined at the start of every doctor’s visit—would be more effective in treating patients’ chronic neck pain than the more traditional, prescription-oriented approach.

Their study, “Patient-oriented rehabilitation in the management of chronic mechanical neck pain: a randomized controlled trial,” was published online ahead of print in November 2012. It appears in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.

How the Study Was Conducted
The researchers looked at 220 patients with chronic neck pain. The participants were randomly assigned into 2 groups: a patient-oriented therapeutic group and a prescription-oriented group. In the patient-oriented group, the therapies were scheduled at the beginning of each therapeutic session, depending on the status of the patients' health. In the prescription-oriented group, therapies were prescribed during the initial referral and remained the same throughout the treatment period. The group members attended 10 therapeutic sessions over a 3 week period. The researchers measured patients’ levels of pain, disability levels, and response to treatment to determine which treatment option was more effective.

What the Researchers Found
The researchers found that while both groups had reductions in pain following therapy, greater reductions were seen in the patient-oriented therapeutic group compared to the prescription- oriented group. The researchers conclude that this finding may signal that the ongoing adjustment of patient treatment regimens may be helpful in reducing pain and disability caused by chronic neck pain.

What This Study Means for You
As your condition changes, your treatment needs may change, too. An open dialogue with your doctor about changes to your neck pain and overall health can ensure that you are receiving the appropriate amount and type of treatment you need at each step in your recovery.

Updated on: 03/08/16
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