Patients With Neck Pain Demonstrate Reduced Electromyographic Activity of the Deep Cervical Flexor Muscles During Performance of the Craniocervical Flexion Test
The present study compared activity of deep and superficial cervical flexor muscles and craniocervical flexion range of motion during a test of craniocervical flexion between 10 patients with chronic neck pain and 10 controls.Summary of Background Data.
Individuals with chronic neck pain exhibit reduced performance on a test of craniocervical flexion, and training of this maneuver is effective in management of neck complaints. Although this test is hypothesized to reflect dysfunction of the deep cervical flexor muscles, this has not been tested.Methods.
Deep cervical flexor electromyographic activity was recorded with custom electrodes inserted via the nose and fixed by suction to the posterior mucosa of the oropharynx. Surface electrodes were placed over the superficial neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid and anterior scalene). Root mean square electromyographic amplitude and craniocervical flexion range of motion was measured during five incremental levels of craniocervical flexion in supine.Results.
There was a strong linear relation between the electromyographic amplitude of the deep cervical flexor muscles and the incremental stages of the craniocervical flexion test for control and individuals with neck pain (P = 0.002). However, the amplitude of deep cervical flexor electromyographic activity was less for the group with neck pain than controls, and this difference was significant for the higher increments of the task (P < 0.05). Although not significant, there was a strong trend for greater sternocleidomastoid and anterior scalene electromyographic activity for the group with neck pain.Conclusions.
These data confirm that reduced performance of the craniocervical flexion test is associated with dysfunction of the deep cervical flexor muscles and support the validity of this test for patients with neck pain.