Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation in chronic low back and neck pain and disability: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Vaishnavi Suresh, Suruliraj Karthikbabu, Venkatesan Prem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) is one of the neurophysiological techniques aimed at reducing pain and disability. This systematic review objective addresses the current evidence on PNF techniques' effectiveness in chronic low back and neck pain. METHODS: Literature search in PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane, Wiley and Ovid databases were searched until 2021. The content of the titles and the abstracts were analysed to gather information about the effects of PNF in chronic back and neck pain with outcomes of pain and disability. The quality of the studies was analysed by the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) critical appraisal score. Meta-analysis was performed on Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) for chronic low back pain and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) for disability. RESULTS: Nine studies addressed the different PNF based interventions on chronic low back pain, with a total of 416 participants. The intervention period ranged 3-6 weeks, and two studies conducted 12-weeks follow-up. Many studies measured pain using a VAS and NRS, whereas the disability through ODI and RMDQ. The JBI score ranged from 6/13 to 11/13. None of the PNF studies treated chronic neck pain. CONCLUSION: PNF might be beneficial for reducing low back pain and related disability. The long term effects of PNF on chronic low back pain, and also to determine its benefits on chronic neck pain are warranted in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
JournalPhysiotherapy Practice and Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20-08-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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