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Vernon H., Humphreys B. K.
Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College Toronto, ON, Canada
Manual therapy for neck pain enjoys a long history, with increasing popularity in recent times. The evidence base for manual therapies for neck pain consists of a reasonably large body of clinical trials, an even greater number of systematic reviews and, more recently, a number of practice guidelines. We have conducted several systematic reviews pertaining to the evidence base for both acute and chronic neck pain as well as for the outcome of control groups of chronic neck pain subjects in clinical trials of conservative therapies. In this review, we first provide background material on the definition and characterization of manual therapies as well as on the epidemiology of neck pain. We then review our recent systematic reviews on manual therapies for acute and chronic neck pain without whiplash. Finally, we provide brief, original reviews of, first, the literature on the treatment of whiplash injury by manual therapies followed by the current practice guidelines pertaining to manual therapies for neck pain. While there are several publications, especially those registered with the Cochrane Collaboration, that are currently the authoritative evaluations of the use of manual therapies for neck pain, the present review is designed to present a broad overview of the topic with a distinctive approach emphasizing the analysis of change scores in the clinical trials. It is hoped that this will benefit researchers and clinicians alike in their management of neck pain patients.