Morphological changes in the cervical muscles of women with chronic whiplash can be modified with exercise-A pilot study

Muscle Nerve. 2015 Nov;52(5):772-9. doi: 10.1002/mus.24612. Epub 2015 Sep 3.


Introduction: In this preliminary study we determined whether MRI markers of cervical muscle degeneration [elevated muscle fatty infiltration (MFI), cross-sectional area (CSA), and reduced relative muscle CSA (rmCSA)] could be modified with exercise in patients with chronic whiplash.

Methods: Five women with chronic whiplash undertook 10 weeks of neck exercise. MRI measures of the cervical multifidus (posterior) and longus capitus/colli (anterior) muscles, neck muscle strength, and self-reported neck disability were recorded at baseline and at completion of the exercise program.

Results: Overall significant increases in CSA and rmCSA were observed for both muscles, but significant reductions in MFI were only evident in the cervical multifidus muscle. These changes coincided with increased muscle strength and reduced neck disability.

Conclusions: MRI markers of muscle morphology in individuals with chronic whiplash appear to be modifiable with exercise.

Keywords: MRI; exercise; muscle degeneration; rehabilitation; whiplash.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Neck Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Whiplash Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Whiplash Injuries / therapy*
  • Young Adult