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Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1500 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 401B
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 863-4444

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Total Neck Motion as a Measure of Treatment Success

Posted on: 07/27/2006
Neck pain patients often have chronic disorders of the cervical spine. Whiplash injuries and degenerative changes associated with aging are the most common causes. Treatment is usually focused on decreasing pain and increasing range of motion (ROM). Finding an accurate and reliable way to measure change in ROM is important to assess the results of treatment.

Total neck ROM is made up of six directions including flexion, extension, right and left rotation, and right and left side-bending. In this study, total cervical ROM (all six motions) was tested and retested in two groups of patients. Both groups had chronic disorders of the cervical spine.

Group one (whiplash) and group two (degenerative changes) both had a 25 to 35 percent decrease in total cervical ROM. The results showed a major decline in all directions compared to healthy adults of the same age.

The authors suggested the reason total ROM was less in both groups was because of pain rather than any difference in anatomy or neck structure. They suggest total cervical ROM can be used as a measure of treatment success in both whiplash and cervical spine degenerative disorders.

Any changes observed represent actual change and not an error in measuring. A difference of five to 10 degrees may occur as a testing error. But a 20 to 25 degree change observed in these patient groups is an indication of real limitations.

Zeevi Dvir, PhD, et al. Cervical Motion in Patients with Chronic Disorders of the Cervical Spine: A Reproducibility Study. In Spine. June 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 13. Pp. E394-E399.

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