OBJECTIVE: To compare physical characteristics of the cervical musculature, including maximal isometric strength of the flexors and extensors, relative isometric endurance of the extensors and the active range of motion (ROM) in extension in a group of patients seeking treatment for chronic neck pain and a group of age-matched healthy people.
SETTING: Department of Medical Orthopedics, National University Hospital, Denmark.
METHODS: One hundred and nineteen chronic neck-pain patients underwent physical testing for active ROM in extension, maximal isometric torque in extension and flexion and relative isometric endurance in extension before entering a clinical controlled trial studying the treatment of chronic neck pain. Their results were then compared with those of 80 age-matched healthy people.
RESULTS: The reliability study demonstrated good within-day and day-to-day reproducibility for active ROM. Active ROM was significantly reduced in female patients, but not in all male age groups. Patients exhibited clinically and statistically significant reductions in maximal isometric torque in both the flexors and extensors of the cervical spine, with the greatest reduction seen in the extensor muscle group. Most patient groups demonstrated a significant reduction in relative isometric endurance of the extensors.
CONCLUSIONS: In agreement with most low-back comparisons between patients and age-matched healthy people, the greatest relative muscular deficiencies seem to be in the extensor muscle group. Additionally, most patients exhibit a significant decrease in active ROM during extension. The clinical utility of physical measurements has not been firmly established.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher; full text is available by subscription. Click on the above link and select a publisher from PubMed's LinkOut feature.