Reduced head steadiness in whiplash compared with non-traumatic neck pain
Astrid Woodhouse, Pål Liljebäck, Ottar Vasseljen
Objective: While sensorimotor alterations have been observed in patients with neck pain, it is uncertain whether such changes distinguish whiplash-associated disorders from chronic neck pain without trauma. The aim of this study was to investigate head steadiness during isometric neck flexion in subjects with chronic whiplash-associated disorders (WAD), those with chronic non-traumatic neck pain and healthy subjects. Associations with fatigue and effects of pain and dizziness were also investigated.
Methods: Head steadiness in terms of head motion velocity was compared in subjects with whiplash (n = 59), non-traumatic neck pain (n = 57) and healthy controls (n = 57) during 2 40-s isometric neck flexion tests; a high load test and a low load test. Increased velocity was expected to reflect decreased head steadiness.
Results: The whiplash group showed significantly decreased head steadiness in the low load task compared with the other 2 groups. The difference was explained largely by severe levels of neck pain and dizziness. No group differences in head steadiness were found in the high load task.
Conclusion: Reduced head steadiness during an isometric holding test was observed in a group of patients with whiplash-associated disorders. Decreased head steadiness was related to severe pain and dizziness.