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TherapyXperts Maynooth

Parklodge Medical Centre
Co. Kildare
0818 333611
01 6289341

Pilates for Neck Pain

Pilates, an eighty year old exercise format, has over the last decade gained considerable scientific respect as an effective rehabilitation tool for back muscles weakened by back pain.

The popularity of Pilates among Chartered Physiotherapists is grounded in university-based research, started in Australia and then aided by research teams throughout the world. After much discussion among doctors and allied health clinicians, one of the first research question for which an answer was sought was to identify exactly what happens to back muscles in the presence of back pain. From clinical practise physiotherapists knew in advance that there was a muscle response to pain, but we were keen that scientists would back up clinical findings with scientific evidence, which they did over many years of research.

The next question was to establish if any specific and repeated patterns of muscle dysfunction could be found in response to back pain, and again the answer proved that what we were finding in clinical practice was true: there were definite patterns of muscle dysfunction, but by the same token, the patterns were not necessarily consistent to the same diagnosis on different people, meaning that each person needs to be individually examined clinically. However, the evidence for different patterns of muscle dysfunction brought significant improvements to assessment and treatment of dysfunction. This meant that specific muscle re-education could be taught with the expectation of improved success in restoring muscles to their pre-back pain status.

Implementing scientific based rehabilitation should ensure that first ever ‘simple’ back pain does not become ongoing, ever more disabling episodic back pain.

In recent years research teams have begun to ask the same questions about neck pain. We know that 80% of the population experience neck pain at some stage in life, slightly less than for back pain, but still a significant percentage of the population.

Scientific research on neck pain, perhaps surprisingly, demonstrates that the reasons, causes and effects of neck pain are not quite the same as back pain. Though two apparently similar spinal regions, there are important anatomical and functional differences between the neck and the lumbar region. This means that scientists and clinicians cannot accurately take known evidence on back pain and dysfunction and simply apply them in the same manner in neck presentations.

So the next challenge is to unlock the key to best rehabilitation of neck after pain.

However, like in back pain, a number of obvious patterns of dysfunction in painful neck muscles have begun to emerge. Some specific exercise regimes have been developed. However, when Josef Pilates devised the Pilates Programme in the 1930’s he did so without the benefit of scientific knowledge, yet decades later, his principles have been validated as an excellent tool in rehabilitating back pain. This begs the question; does Pilates have any impact on muscle dysfunction in neck pain? Clinical experience by our physiotherapist and Pilates instructor suggests that Pilates has a beneficial effect on chronic neck pain although there is no research published to support this fact.

A current research project at UCD seeks to redress this by examining scientifically the effect of Pilates on neck pain. Here in Maynooth we are involved in the pilot project for this research and we seek a small number of volunteers to participate in this initial phase. If you have had neck pain for more than 6 weeks or experience recurring neck pain (pain for at least one week per month over the previous four months) of sufficient intensity to restrict you functionally day-to-day and are aged 18 to 60, our team would be interested in talking to you.

As in all research certain exclusion criteria apply, including very severe pain, pain radiating down the arm, being pregnant currently, having muscle weakness from neck pain, or having an underlying medical condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions.

Call or email us for further information (details below), stating that your enquiry relates to the ‘Pilates Neck Pain Research’ If your neck condition and general health are suitable, you will be asked to commit to a free, once weekly Pilates class lasting 6 weeks, taken by one of our team of Chartered Physiotherapists. The outcome of this pilot project will help answer the research question as to whether Pilates is of use in the treatment and rehabilitation of neck pain. The outcome of this research will hopefully add to the growing body of knowledge worldwide about Pilates.

This is exactly the type of clinically based research that Chartered Physiotherapists are keen to promote: research that is grounded in the patients we treat every day, yet entirely scientific in methodology.

Call Therapyxperts Maynooth on 0818 333 611/016289341 or e-mail germaine.mallin@therapyxperts.ie .
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TherapyXperts: Registered business address: Kandoy House, 2 Fairview Strand, Fairview, Dublin 3, Ireland|Phone: +353 818 333 611|Email: info@therapyxperts.ie
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