Unravelling the complexity of muscle impairment in chronic neck pain

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180 Citations (Scopus)


Exercise interventions are deemed essential for the effective management of patients with neck pain. However, there has been a lack of consensus on optimal exercise prescription, which has resulted from a paucity of studies to quantify the precise nature of muscle impairment, in people with neck pain. This masterclass will present recent research from our laboratory, which has utilized surface electromyography to investigate cervical flexor muscle impairment in patients with chronic neck pain. This research has identified deficits in the motor control of the deep and superficial cervical flexor muscles in people with chronic neck pain, characterized by a delay in onset of neck muscle contraction associated with movement of the upper limb. In addition, people with neck pain demonstrate an altered pattern of muscle activation, which is characterized by reduced deep cervical flexor muscle activity during a low load cognitive task and increased activity of the superficial cervical flexor muscles during both cognitive tasks and functional activities. The results have demonstrated the complex, multifaceted nature of cervical muscle impairment, which exists in people with a history of neck pain. In turn, this has considerable implications for the rehabilitation of muscle function in people with neck pain disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-33
Number of pages9
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Manipulation, Spinal
  • Neck Muscles
  • Neck Pain
  • Pain Measurement
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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