Alterations in the Mechanical Response of Deep Dorsal Neck Muscles in Individuals Experiencing Whiplash-Associated Disorders Compared to Healthy Controls: An Ultrasound Study

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The aim of this study was to investigate and compare the mechanical responses of dorsal neck muscles in individuals with whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) versus healthy individuals.


This study included 36 individuals with WAD (26 women and 10 men) and 36 healthy controls (26 women and 10 men). Ultrasound imaging with speckle tracking was used to measure deformation and deformation rate in five dorsal neck muscles during a neck extension task.


Compared with controls, individuals with WAD showed higher deformations of the semispinalis cervicis (P = 0.02) and multifidus (P = 0.002) muscles and higher deformation rates (P = 0.03 and 0.0001, respectively). Among individuals with WAD, multifidus deformation and deformation rate were significantly associated with pain, disability, and fatigue (r = 0.31–0.46, P = 0.0001–0.01).


These findings indicate that the mechanical responses of the deep dorsal neck muscles differ between individuals with WAD and healthy controls, possibly reflecting that these muscles use altered strategies while performing a neck extension task. This finding provides new insight into neck muscles pathology in patients with chronic WAD and may help improve rehabilitation programs.

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CME Objectives

Upon completion of this article, the reader should be able to: (1) Summarize the mechanical responses of dorsal neck muscles during loading of the neck muscles via an extension task in individuals with chronic whiplash associated disorders and healthy volunteers; (2) Differentiate mechanical responses between five dorsal neck muscles while loading the neck via an extension task; and (3) Describe the relationships between the mechanical responses of the dorsal neck muscles with the patients' perception of neck pain, disability, and fatigue.




The Association of Academic Physiatrists is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


The Association of Academic Physiatrists designates this Journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

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