The NEXERCISE-trial: Reshaping Exercise Programs for Patients With Non-specific Neck Pain (NEXERCISE)

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University Ghent
Updated on 24 March 2022
neck exercises


The Nexercise-trial is a blended treatment program for patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. We will investigate whether a blended treatment approach, combining specific neck exercises and general aerobic exercises, has better outcome (on medical impact for the patient and socio-economic impact) than a specific neck exercise program alone or a general aerobic exercise program alone.


Chronic non-specific neck pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint in which several biopsychosocial factors can be involved. This condition is associated with a high socio-economic burden. The standard of care treatment for chronic neck pain in clinical practice is a combination of advice, passive manual treatment techniques and neck exercises. The implementation of exercise for the treatment of chronic neck pain is indeed recommended in several clinical guidelines. Nevertheless, exercise programs show positive though limited effects, which can be explained by its biomechanical and physiological effects on muscles and joints, but a current lack of taking into account important biopsychosocial and neurophysiological factors. For instance, specific local exercises can lead to acute pain flare-ups, hampering patient satisfaction and the adherence to exercise programs. While it is shown that general aerobic exercise leads to decreased generalized pain sensitivity, also in the affected body parts, both immediately and on the longer term, although on the longer term the effects on local pain sensitivity are better for specific local exercises.

It can be hypothesized that a blended treatment program in which local specific neck exercises are combined with general aerobic exercise in counteractive amount will avoid pain flare-ups and maladaptive exercise perceptions, positively influencing treatment adherence and generating the most optimal clinical outcome due to the local and general effects.

Therefore the aim of this project is to investigate the effect of a blended treatment program (I) to a specific exercise program alone (C1) and to a general aerobic exercise program alone (C2) on pain intensity and cost effectiveness (primary outcome measures), and also on Global Perceived Effect, other pain-related outcomes, quality of life and functionality, lifestyle factors, and health-economic measures (secondary outcome measures) (O) in chronic non-specific neck pain patients (P).

Condition Neck Pain, Chronic Pain
Treatment Blended treatment program, Specific strength exercise program, General aerobic exercise program
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04749823
SponsorUniversity Ghent
Last Modified on24 March 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Neck pain > 3 months
Mean pain intensity > 3/10 during the preceding month
Native Dutch speaker
Being able to walk normally

Exclusion Criteria

People with specific causes of neck pain (such as cervical disc herniation with nerve root impingement, severe osteoarthritis, fractures)
Major depression or psychiatric illness
Life threatening, metabolic, cardiovascular, neurologic, systemic diseases, diagnosed sleeping disorder
Pregnancy or given birth in the preceding year
History of head, neck or shoulder surgery
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
Body mass index > 30 kg/m2
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