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Cephalalgia. 1999 Apr;19(3):179-85.

Further clinical clarification of the muscle dysfunction in cervical headache.

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Department of Physiotherapy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


The Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society listed impairments in cervical muscle function as criteria for headaches of cervical spine origin. Fifteen subjects with cervical headache and 15 controls were tested for the frequency of abnormal responses to passive stretching and abnormal muscle contraction. A new test of cranio-cervical flexion was used to assess the contraction of the deep neck flexors. Results indicated a trend towards a higher frequency of abnormal response to passive stretching of the muscles examined in the cervical headache group but only the upper trapezius proved significantly different to the control group. Deep neck flexor muscle contraction was significantly inferior in the cervical headache group. From the perspective of physical characterization of cervical headache, it appears that response from passive stretch of muscle may not be a strong criterion for cervical headache but deep neck flexor performance may have potential to identify musculoskeletal involvement in headache. The finding may also provide positive directions for conservative treatment of cervical headache.

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