This case describes the clinical decision-making behind the conservative clinical management of an individual presenting with chronic neck pain with myriad neuromuscular comorbidities. The focus of this case report is to support the safe utilization of manual therapy and describe the tolerable prescription of strength and endurance exercise in a patient with numerous complications to improve self-efficacy. A 22-year-old female college student presented with a chief complaint of chronic, non-specific neck pain with comorbid Chiari malformation, migraines, upper cervical spinal fusion, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) to an outpatient physical therapy clinic for evaluation and treatment. Following four sessions of physical therapy treatment, no clinically significant improvement in the individual's symptoms and daily function was achieved. Despite the lack of measurable change, the patient reported the program's value on her ability to self-manage her complex condition. The patient responded well to manual therapy, specifically thrust manipulations. In addition, both endurance and strengthening exercises were well tolerated and provided a measure of self-management that may not have been achieved before physical therapy management. This case report highlights the need for exercise and pain-modulating interventions in highly complex individuals to reduce medical intervention by advancing the patient's self-efficacy. There is a need for further research about the utility of standardized outcome measures, joint manipulations, and the addition of cervico-ocular exercises for those who present with neck pain and pertinent neuromuscular comorbidities.
Mayo, Zach and Keating, Christopher, "Manual Therapy and Exercise for the Management of Chronic Neck Pain With Multiple Neurovascular Comorbidities: A Case Report" (2023). Department of Physical Therapy Faculty Papers. Paper 36.
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