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Impaired Trunk Muscle Function In Sub-acute Neck Pain: Etiologic In The Subsequent Development Of Low Back Pain?

G. Moseley
Published 2004 · Medicine

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Low back pain (LBP) and neck pain are associated with dysfunction of the trunk and neck muscles, respectively, and may involve common or similar mechanisms. In both cases, dysfunction may compromise spinal control. Anecdotally, neck pain patients commonly develop LBP. This study investigated the possibility that trunk muscle function is compromised in neck pain patients and that compromised trunk muscle function is associated with increased risk of LBP. Fifty-four neck pain patients and 52 controls were assessed on an abdominal drawing-in task (ADIT) and on self-report tests. Performance on the ADIT was able to detect neck pain patients with 85% sensitivity and 73% specificity. Catastrophizing and McGill pain questionnaire (affective) scores were higher in patients with an abnormal task response than in patients with an uncertain or normal response, although the self-report data did not predict task performance. Fifty subjects from each group were contactable by telephone at 2 years. They were asked whether they had experienced persistent or recurrent LBP since the assessment. Subjects (patients and controls) who obtained an abnormal response on the ADIT were 3 to 6 times more likely to develop persistent or recurrent LBP than those who obtained an uncertain or normal response. ADIT performance was the main predictor of development of LBP in patients. The results suggest that reduced voluntary trunk muscle control in neck pain patients is associated with an increased risk of developing LBP.
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