A Comparison of the Deep Cervical Flexor Muscle Thicknesses in Subjects with and without Neck Pain during Craniocervical Flexion Exercises

J Phys Ther Sci. 2013 Nov;25(11):1373-5. doi: 10.1589/jpts.25.1373. Epub 2013 Dec 11.


[Purpose] The purpose of the present study was to examine the amount of change in the thicknesses of the deep cervical flexor (DCF) and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles in subjects with neck pain and subjects without neck pain during craniocervical flexion exercise (CCFE). [Subjects] The total number of subjects was 40, comprising 20 in the no-pain group (males 11, females 9) and 20 in the pain group (males 8, females 12). [Methods] Muscle images were obtained using ultrasound, and the thicknesses of the individual muscles were measured using the NIH ImageJ software. [Results] During CCFE, as pressure increased, the no-pain group recruited the DCF more than the pain group, while the pain group recruited the SCM more. [Conclusion] Selective DCF contraction exercises are considered very useful in the treatment of patients with neck pain.

Keywords: Craniocervical flexion exercise; Deep cervical flexor; Sternocleidomastoid.