Comparing the effectiveness of integrating ergonomics and motor control to conventional treatment for pain and functional recovery of work-related neck–shoulder pain: A randomized trial

Sharon M.H. Tsang, Billy C.L. So, Rufina W.L. Lau, Jie Dai, Grace P.Y. Szeto

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Work-related neck and shoulder pain (WRNSP) is highly prevalent among patients who seek physiotherapy treatment. Clinicians may tend to focus on teaching home exercises and provide general advice about workplace improvement. The present study investigates the short- and long-term impact of an intervention approach that emphasizes on integrating the motor control re-education with ergonomic advice. Methods: Participants diagnosed with WRNSP (n = 101) were randomly assigned into two groups in this randomized controlled trial. The Ergo-motor Group (EM, n = 51) received an integrated intervention with ergonomic advice/modifications and motor control training individualized for each participant based on their specific work demands. Control Group (CO, n = 50) received treatment for pain relief and general exercises of their necks at a designated physiotherapy clinic. Neck pain intensity and functional outcome measures were assessed before, immediately and 1-year after the 12-week intervention programmes. Global Rating of Change Score was used to evaluate the perceived recovery at 1-year follow-up. Results: Both groups reported significant reductions in pain and functional disability scores at post-intervention (EM, n = 44; CO, n = 42) and 1-year follow-up (EM, n = 40; CO, n = 38); however, no significant between-group differences were found (p > 0.05). Significantly higher rating in global recovery score was reported in EM group at 1-year follow-up (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Intervention integrating ergonomic advice/modification with motor control exercise was found to be equally effective as pain relief and general exercise for pain and functional recovery. However, at 1-year follow-up, such integrated approach resulted in significantly better global recovery perceived by people with WRNSP. Significance: Integrating ergonomic intervention and motor control training achieved similar reduction in pain and functional outcomes compared to conventional physiotherapy at post-intervention and at 1-year follow-up, for patients with moderate level of work-related neck–shoulder pain and mild degree of functional disability. The Ergo-motor Group reported significantly better perceived overall recovery at 1-year follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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