METHODS: Ours was a two-group, observational pilot study of patients with complaints of continuous neck pain during the 3 months prior to recruitment. Thirteen patients with chronic neck pain of nontraumatic origin were recruited from an institutional outpatient clinic. Sixteen healthy persons were recruited as a control group. Cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility was assessed by exploring head repositioning accuracy, and postural balance was measured with computerized static posturography.
RESULTS: Parameters of cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility were not reduced. However, in one of six test movements (flexion), global repositioning errors were significantly larger in the experimental group than in the control group (p < 0.05). Measurements did not demonstrate any general impaired postural balance, and varied substantially among participants in both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with nontraumatic chronic neck pain, we found statistically significant global repositioning errors in only one of six test movements. In this cohort, we found no evidence of impaired postural balance. Head repositioning accuracy and computerized static posturography are imperfect measures of functional proprioceptive impairments. Validity of (and procedures for using) these instruments demand further investigation.
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