Asian Spine J.  2020 Feb;14(1):122-129. 10.31616/asj.2019.0055.

Is Scapular Stabilization Exercise Effective for Managing Nonspecific Chronic Neck Pain?: A Systematic Review

Affiliations
  • 1Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Kyung Hee University Hospital, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Sports Medicine, Korea University, Sejong, Korea

Abstract

Scapular stabilization is thought to have an important role in improving pain and dysfunction around the neck and shoulders, but evidence of this is lacking. We aim to systematically review the effect of a scapular stabilization exercise (SSE) on pain and dysfunction in patients with nonspecific chronic neck pain (NP). We searched the PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases using the terms (NP [MeSH] OR NP OR cervical pain OR neck ache OR cervicalgia) AND (scapular exercise OR periscapular exercise OR SSEs). We included suitable studies that met the study’s inclusion criteria. Among the 227 studies identified by our search strategy, a total of four (three randomized controlled studies and one prospective study) met the inclusion criteria. The SSE was intense. It included three sets of 10 repetitions. In most of the studies, the exercises were conducted 3 times per week. Most studies reported that the SSE improved pain and dysfunction in patients with nonspecific chronic NP; however, the reviewed articles did not use the same variables for measurement. Additionally, the sample size was small. Although several studies show that SSE might improve NP and dysfunction, the effects of SSE on pain and dysfunction in the neck region remain unclear because the number of studies was small. Further high-quality studies are necessary to identify the detailed effects of SSE in patients with NP.

Keyword

Neck pain; Exercise therapy; Scapula
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