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Indexed/Abstracted in: CINAHL, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 2,063
Online ISSN 1973-9095
Beinert K. 1, 2, Preiss S. 2, Huber M. 2, Taube W. 1
1 Department of Medicine, Movement and Sports Science, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland;
2 Academy for Health Professions, Institute for Applied Science of the Human Movement System, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany
BACKGROUND: Impaired cervical joint position sense is a feature of chronic neck pain and is commonly argued to rely on abnormal cervical input. If true, muscle vibration, altering afferent input, but not mental interventions, should have an effect on head repositioning acuity and neck pain perception.
AIM: The aim of the present study was to determine the short-term effects of neck muscle vibration, motor imagery, and action observation on cervical joint position sense and pressure pain threshold in people with chronic neck pain.
DESIGN: Forty-five blinded participants with neck pain received concealed allocation and were randomized in three treatment groups. A blinded assessor performed pre- and post-test measurement.
SETTING: Patients were recruited from secondary outpatient clinics in the southwest of Germany.
POPULATION: Chronic, non specific neck pain patients without arm pain were recruited for this study.
METHODS: A single intervention session of 5 minutes was delivered to each blinded participant. Patients were either allocated to one of the following three interventions: 1) neck muscle vibration; 2) motor imagery; 3) action observation. Primary outcomes were cervical joint position sense acuity and pressure pain threshold. Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to evaluate differences between groups and subjects.
RESULTS: Repositioning acuity displayed significant time effects for vibration, motor imagery, and action observation (all P<0.05), but revealed no time*group effect. Pressure pain threshold demonstrated a time*group effect (P=0.042) as only vibration significantly increased pressure pain threshold (P=0.01).
CONCLUSION: Although motor imagery and action observation did not modulate proprioceptive, afferent input, they nevertheless improved cervical joint position sense acuity. This indicates that, against the common opinion, changes in proprioceptive input are not prerequisite to improve joint repositioning performance. However, the short-term applications of these cognitive treatments had no effect on pressure pain thresholds, whereas vibration reduced pressure pain thresholds. This implies different underlying mechanisms after vibration and mental training.
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Mental interventions were effective in improving cervical joint position sense and are easy to integrate in rehabilitation regimes. Neck muscle vibration is effective in improving cervical joint position sense and pressure pain thresholds within 5 minutes of application.