Neck motion, motor control, pain and disability: A longitudinal study of associations in neck pain patients in physiotherapy treatment

Man Ther. 2016 Apr;22:94-100. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.10.013. Epub 2015 Nov 2.


Background: Neck pain is associated with several alterations in neck motion and motor control, but most of the findings are based on cross-sectional studies.

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate associations between changes in neck motion and motor control, and changes in neck pain and disability in physiotherapy patients during a course of treatment.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Method: Subjects with non-specific neck pain (n = 71) participated in this study. Neck flexibility, joint position error (JPE), head steadiness, trajectory movement control and postural sway were recorded before commencement of physiotherapy (baseline), at 2 weeks, and at 2 months. Numerical Rating Scale and Neck Disability Index were used to measure neck pain and disability at the day of testing. To analyze within subjects effects in neck motion and motor control, neck pain, and disability over time we used fixed effects linear regression analysis.

Results: Changes in neck motion and motor control occurred primarily within 2 weeks. Reduction in neck pain was associated with increased cervical range of motion in flexion-/extension and increased postural sway when standing with eyes open. Decreased neck disability was associated with some variables for neck flexibility and trajectory movement control. Cervical range of motion in flexion-/extension was the only variable associated with changes in both neck pain and neck disability.

Conclusions: This study shows that few of the variables for neck motion and motor control were associated with changes neck pain and disability over a course of 2 months with physiotherapy treatment.

Keywords: Disability; Motor control; Neck motion; Neck pain; Physiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Young Adult