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Range of motion in the upper and lower cervical spine in people with chronic neck pain
University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research. University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences.
University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research. University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7543-4397
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences. University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research.
2010 (English)In: The XVIII Congress of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK), Aalborg, Denmark, 2010Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

AIM: Several studies have reported reduced cervical range of motion (ROM) in people with neck pain. Different methodologies have been used, but with a few exception they measure only head-trunk relationship and do not discriminate between upper and lower cervical motion. Recent strategies for treatment of neck pain condition include retraining the function of the deep cervical flexors that act in cranio-cervical movements. Thus objective measures of cervical ROM in flexion-extension that includes determination of cervical level can be valuable for treatment evaluation.

The aim of the present study was to compare cervical flexion and extension, separate for upper and lower cervical levels, between people with chronic neck pain and controls. Also, the association between upper and lower cervical ROM and self rated characteristics was studied.

METHODS: In a cross-sectional study design, 135 subjects (non-traumatic neck pain: n = 102, controls: n = 33) performed three trials of maximum active cervical flexion and extension. Subjects were seated in a chair with belts crossed over the chest. An electromagnetic tracker system was used to register the kinematics to construct a three-segment model including the trunk, cervical spine and head. The angle for the upper cervical level was defined as the angle between the head and the cervical spine segments. The angle for the lower cervical level was defined as the angle between the cervical spine and the trunk segments. Pressure pain thresholds, pain ratings as well as self ratings of functioning and physical activity were assessed.

RESULTS: Total ROM was reduced in the neck pain group for both the lower (controls: mean = 26.5, SD=6.7, neck pain: mean=19.0, SD =6.5 degrees) and the upper cervical levels (controls: mean = 84.7, SD = 7.9, neck pain: mean = 73.0, SD = 11.2 degrees). This reduction was direction specific: in the upper cervical level only extension was reduced and in the lower cervical level the reduction was predominately in flexion. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that lower level of physical activity, greater impairments of physical functioning, self reported problems with head movements and lower pressure pain thresholds were related to a greater reduction in ROM in the neck pain group.

CONCLUSION: Reduction of ROM is present for both the upper and lower levels of the cervical spine in people with non-traumatic neck pain. For the upper cervical level this reduction is direction specific so that only extension is reduced. The limited extension range of the upper cervical spine in the neck pain group could reflect a habituated sitting posture that includes a more extended upper cervical spine. Alternatively it could reflect an impaired functioning of the deep cervical flexors. For the lower cervical level the reduction was mainly limited to flexion. This could be a reflection of a ‘head forward posture’ that has previously been reported in people with neck pain. The associations between self rated characteristics and range of motion variables supports the validity of this methodology in research on neck pain conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Aalborg, Denmark, 2010.
National Category
Physiotherapy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-7030OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-7030DiVA: diva2:326260
Conference
The XVIII Congress of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK
Available from: 2010-06-22 Created: 2010-06-22 Last updated: 2016-06-28Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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