Cervical spine stiffness in chronic non-specific neck pain
The evaluation of spinal joint stiffness is a technique commonly employed by manual therapists when patients present with non-specific neck pain. However, despite its widespread use, a relationship between stiffness and neck pain has yet to be demonstrated. The following clinical trial investigated if spinal joint stiffness is in fact different in individuals with neck pain, and whether the magnitude of stiffness correlates with pain and disability.
Spinal stiffness was quantified at C7 in 12 subjects with chronic non-specific neck pain and compared to 12 age- and gender-matched controls. C7 was the level identified by a qualified physiotherapist as the most symptomatic segment in the neck pain group.
Participants with non-specific neck pain had greater spinal joint stiffness at C7 compared with asymptomatic individuals. However, the magnitude of stiffness within the neck pain group was not associated with pain intensity or level of disability. Future studies should establish whether this association holds true for specific cervical spine pathologies.
> From: Ingram et al., J Orthop Sports Phys Ther (2015) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Click here for the Pubmed summary.