Altered interpretation of neck proprioceptive signals in persons with subclinical recurrent neck pain
Isabelle Paulus, Simon Brumagne
Objective: To evaluate whether subjects with subclinical recurrent neck pain have an altered interpretation of neck proprioceptive signals.
Design: A comparative group design.
Subjects: Twelve subjects with recurrent neck pain and 12 control subjects.
Methods: The shoulder, head, trunk and whole-body position were measured under the following conditions: active and passive elevation and depression of the right shoulder and vibration of the trapezius muscle.
Results: During passive shoulder movements both groups moved their head in the opposite direction (p<0.05). During passive elevation subjects with recurrent neck pain showed a significant over-appraisal of shoulder position. Both groups responded similarly to active movements. Subjects with recurrent neck pain and control subjects showed similar trunk and head-to-trunk movements during shoulder movements. Subjects with recurrent neck pain, however, made larger movements compared with healthy subjects (p<0.05). During trapezius muscle vibration similar whole-body movements were found in both groups.
Conclusion: These results show a modified interpretation of neck proprioceptive signals in subjects with recurrent neck pain and may reflect an offset in the egocentric reference frame or a decreased capacity to switch between reference frames. Better insight into these mechanisms might lead to better evaluation and treatment of subjects with recurrent neck pain and to a reduction in recurrent episodes.
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