Pulmonary function of patients with chronic neck pain: a spirometry study

Respir Care. 2014 Apr;59(4):543-9. doi: 10.4187/respcare.01828. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Background: Chronic neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal pain conditions experienced by many people during their lives. Although patients with neck pain are managed predominantly as musculoskeletal patients, there are indications that they also have poor pulmonary function. The aim of this study was to examine whether patients with chronic neck pain have spirometric abnormalities and whether neck pain problems and psychological states are associated with these abnormalities.

Methods: Forty-five participants with chronic neck pain and 45 well-matched healthy controls were recruited. Spirometry was used to assess participants' pulmonary function. Neck muscle strength, endurance of deep neck flexors, cervical range of motion, forward head posture, psychological states, disability, and pain intensity were also evaluated.

Results: The results showed that patients with chronic neck pain yielded significantly reduced vital capacity, FVC, expiratory reserve volume, and maximum voluntary ventilation (P < .05), but peak expiratory flow, FEV1, and FEV1/FVC ratio were not affected (P > .05). Strength of neck muscles, pain intensity, and kinesiophobia were found to be significantly correlated (r > 0.3, P < .05) with respiratory function.

Conclusions: Patients with chronic neck pain do not have optimal pulmonary function. Cervical spine muscle dysfunction in parallel with pain intensity and kinesiophobia are factors that are associated mainly with this respiratory dysfunction.

Keywords: cervical pain; flows; maximum voluntary ventilation; respiration; spirometry; volumes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Volume Measurements*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Spirometry*
  • Visual Analog Scale