Purpose: To investigate the effect of cervical exercise on neck pain, disability, and psychosocial factors in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Subjects: Thirty patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, who also complained of neck pain.

Methods: The cervical exercise group (n = 15) participated in cervical exercises for 30 min, 3 times/week for 6 weeks, and the control group (n = 16) underwent conventional physical therapy alone, without exercise. The exercises were performed in the following order: cervical relaxation, local muscle stabilization, and global muscle stabilization using a sling system.

Results: Compared to the control group, the cervical exercise group demonstrated significant decreases as follows: Visual analogue scale score, 4.2 vs. 1.0; Neck disability index, 3.9 vs. 1.9; and depression on the Symptom checklist-90-revised, 9.4 vs. 4.3 and on the Hopkins symptom checklist25, 6.3 vs. 2.8. However, anxiety on the Symptom checklist-90-revised (3.1 vs. 1.3) was not significantly different. Effect sizes were as follows: Visual analogue scale score, 1.8; Neck disability index, 0.9; depression, 1.0; and anxiety on Symptom checklist-90-revised and Hopkins symptom checklist-25, 0.6 and 0.8, respectively.

Conclusion: Cervical exercise is effective in improving neck pain, disability, and efficacy of psychological treatment for depression in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Key words: Post-traumatic stress disorder, Neck pain, Psychosocial factors