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Why You Should Launch a Neck Pain Program

Launching an effective treatment and management program to deal with neck pain is a smart business move. Most importantly, it produces good patient outcomes. It is also a very marketable program that can significantly add to the practice bottom line. Such a program can be expected to generate additional revenue and new patient admissions.

There are several ingredients to a successful Neck Pain Program. When all or most of these are present, the program is pretty much guaranteed to deliver on its promise.

  • A treatment and management protocol
  • Advanced, evidence-based treatment tools and techniques
  • Written policies and procedures to maximize adherence to the protocol
  • A comprehensive business plan and strategy

It is my experience from talking to my colleagues over the years that many facilities have one or more of these items already in place. However, very few of them are active in all of them. Let’s explore these items in more detail below.

Neck Pain Treatment Protocol

When patients present to the clinic with neck pain, the first step will always include evaluation procedures by the skilled clinician. The evaluation will yield the treatment diagnosis and dictate the treatment plan. There are of course multiple causes for neck pain and each will call for a unique treatment approach. The clinic will create a standard treatment protocol for each of the main causes for neck pain. For example, in the case of cervical radiculopathy, the protocol might look something like the following:
  • Evaluation by Clinician à Treatment Diagnosis = Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Standard Treatment Protocol:
    • Mechanical traction/Decompression x 15 minutes
      • 10-25 lbs (dependent on acuity of the condition) of traction during Active phase, 50% of that during Passive phase
      • Progress towards traction poundage in 3 phases during first 5 minutes with equal increases at each phase
      • Regress towards no traction in 3 phases during last 5 minutes
    • High Power laser x 2 minutes
      • Apply 12 J/cm2 to each pain or trigger point in cervical region
    • Manual mobilization and/or manipulation to cervical joints and soft tissues as needed
    • High Power Laser x 1 minute as needed
      • Apply 12 J/cm2 to each pain or trigger point in cervical region
    • Home exercise instruction
      • Provide instruction and print outs of select exercises as needed

The example above still allows for clinician discretion to determine the best approach to the intervention based on the patient presentation (best neck position, structures to target, etc.), but the treatment session will always include mechanical traction and high power laser (assuming no contraindications are present); and manual work and exercise.

The treatment team will have to do some homework up front to come up with the best protocol for each condition. The peer-reviewed evidence that exists in print will of course drive this process.

Contact us at if you would like assistance in this process. We have templates and resources that may be helpful.

Cervical Treatment Tools and Techniques

As per the last paragraph above, the clinic has to adopt treatment tools and techniques that work based on the best available evidence. If advanced manual therapy skills have been shown to deliver good outcomes, the clinic must include these in the protocol and consequently invest in training its clinicians in obtaining and improving these skills.

And if decompression/mechanical traction and high power laser are indeed effective tools to deal with neck pain and muscle tone, the clinic must acquire these tools and make sure all clinicians are trained and competent in using them.

Policies and Procedures

A treatment plan is only as good as the manner in which it is implemented. The neck pain protocol may be fantastic but if clinicians do not execute it the right way (or not at all), the results will disappoint. The best way to ensure that a new protocol is accepted and implemented by the clinical team is to involve everyone in the development process (the homework mentioned above) and then to create a document to reflect the group consensus. Adopt this document as a binding clinic policy and start monitoring outcomes and compliance.

This process creates tremendous buy-in at all levels of the organization.

Neck Pain Program Business Plan and Strategy

A business plan starts with the premise that the effort of launching a Neck Pain Program is an endeavor that makes good business sense. It is a document that includes a description of WHAT we are about to embark on, WHY this is a good idea, WHAT the expected outcomes are going to be, HOW we are going to go about achieving them, and WHEN we can expect to see the results.

The next blog post will focus more on the details of the business plan and strategy. Stay tuned!

Contact us at if you would like assistance in this process. We have several templates that might be helpful to you.

Yorick Wijting, PT, DPT ( received his degree in Physical Therapy in the Netherlands and later his DPT at the University of St. Augustine in Florida. He has practiced physical therapy in various care settings across Europe, South Africa and the United States. He has extensive training and practical experience in electrotherapy and teaches nationally and internationally to medical professionals on its therapeutic use. He is passionate about helping clinicians discover how technology can enhance their efficiency and treatment outcomes.

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