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Title: Respiratory dysfunction in chronic neck pain
Author: Dimitriadis, Zacharias
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 4629
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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Background: Patients with chronic neck pain have a number of factors that could constitute a predisposition for respiratory dysfunction. However, the existing evidence is limited and not well established, and many questions such as the association of neck pain deficits with respiratory function remain unanswered. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate whether patients with chronic neck have accompanying respiratory dysfunction and which are the neck pain deficits which principally predispose to these respiratory disturbances.Methods: In this case-control observational study, 45 patients with chronic idiopathic neck pain (>6 months, at least once per week) and 45 healthy age-, gender-, height- and weight-matched controls were voluntarily recruited. A third group of 10 patients with chronic non-spinal musculoskeletal pain was also used, but only for future reference. Participants' neck muscle strength and endurance were measured by an isometric neck dynamometer and craniocervical flexion test respectively. Range of movement was assessed by using an ultrasound-based motion analysis system. Forward head posture was assessed by obtaining lateral photographs and calculating the craniovertebral angle. Disability and neck pain intensity were assessed through the Neck Disability Index and Visual Analogue Scale. Psychological assessment was performed by using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale and the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia. Spirometry was used for assessing pulmonary volumes, flows and maximal voluntary ventilation. Respiratory muscle strength was assessed by using a mouth pressure meter. Finally, PaCO2 was assessed by using transcutaneous blood gas monitoring.Results: Patients with chronic neck pain were found to have weaker respiratory muscles than healthy controls (p<0.05). Their pulmonary volumes and maximal voluntary ventilation were also found to be reduced (p<0.05). Their mean respiratory flows were found to be unaffected (p>0.05), whereas their peak flows were reduced (p<0.05). Their partial pressure of carbon dioxide was also found to be affected (p<0.05), revealing existence of hypocapnia (PaCO2<35mmHg). The neck pain deficits that were found to be mostly correlated with these respiratory parameters were the neck muscle strength, neck muscle endurance, kinesiophobia, catastrophizing and pain intensity (r>0.3, p<0.05). Finally, the regression models revealed that neck pain deficits and especially neck muscle strength can provide a quite generalizable accurate estimation of this respiratory dysfunction (R2=0.28-0.52).Conclusions: Patients with chronic neck pain present dysfunction of their respiratory system which can be mainly manifested as respiratory weakness and/or hypocapnia. Pain intensity, neck muscle weakness, fatigue and kinesiophobia seem to be the most important deficits predisposing to this respiratory dysfunction. The understanding of this dysfunction could have a great impact on various clinical aspects notably patient assessment, rehabilitation and drug prescription. However, further research is suggested mainly directed towards optimizing treatment protocols and developing classification systems improving clinical reasoning.
Supervisor: Oldham, Jacqueline Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: chronic neck pain, respiration, hypocapnia