Design: Retrospective analysis of patient files.
Setting: Teaching chiropractic clinic, RMIT University.
Subjects: Files of 355 patients presenting to the clinic with uncomplicated mechanical neck pain were analysed.
Data Analysis: The data was entered into a spreadsheet (Excel 97), contingency tables created and data analysed using Chi Square tests. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.
Results: Palpatory tenderness and active range-of-motion reductions (particularly rotation and lateral flexion) were the most commonly positive tests, while orthopaedic tests showed relatively low positive results. Factors that affected the rate of positive responses for some tests were age, gender, and pain site, duration and cause. The number of previous episodes of neck pain had no effect on the positive test rates.
Conclusion: For cases of uncomplicated mechanical neck pain, palpators tenderness and active range-of- motion reductions are the most useful tests from a clinical point of view. Orthopaedic testing is of minimal value with the possible exception of foraminal compression. Selection of the most appropriate tests must take into account the patient profile and history.
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