Muscle Energy Technique May Help Ease Neck Muscle Weakness and Pain in Patients, Study Reports

Muscle Energy Technique May Help Ease Neck Muscle Weakness and Pain in Patients, Study Reports

Muscle energy technique, a type of manual therapy where the patient also actively participates, may help ease pain and weakness in neck muscles involved in breathing and reduce fatigue in patients with fibromyalgia, a study reports.

The study, “Effectiveness of the muscle energy technique on respiratory muscle strength and endurance in patients with fibromyalgia,” was published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation.

Chronic, widespread pain is a hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia that can affect neck (cervical) mobility and breathing. Some studies have found that breathing muscles are weaker in these patients than in those of healthy individuals.

Physical therapy approaches that target the fascia — the sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that separates muscles from other organs — may improve the treatment of fibromyalgia pain.

One effective therapy is the muscle energy technique (MET), a manual therapy where the participant also actively participates by performing different types of muscle contractions.

Researchers at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Turkey investigated the effectiveness of this technique to improve breathing muscle strength and endurance in patients with fibromyalgia. The study included 37 female patients who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia and who were experiencing neck and back pain.

Over three weeks, MET was used in three sessions per week on several cervical muscles (the scalene, upper trapezius, and sternocleidomastoid) after superficial heat was applied. Before and after the treatment, the patients were assessed for their respiratory muscle strength, respiratory muscle endurance, pain and fatigue severity, flexibility, and disability.

Following MET, both expiratory muscle strength and respiratory muscle endurance increased significantly. Participants also experienced improved neck flexibility and reduced pain, fatigue, and disability. 

Researchers recommend that future randomized studies be carried out with a placebo control group to measure the effect of the MET on the patients’ respiratory function.

“Considering the increase in respiratory muscle strength and endurance, it is also believed that respiratory functions might increase. For this reason, it is recommended to study the effect of MET — applied to accessory respiratory muscles — on respiratory functions in future studies,” the researchers concluded.