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Pain. 2008 Jul 15;137(2):257-65. Epub 2007 Oct 25.

Quantitative sensory measures distinguish office workers with varying levels of neck pain and disability.

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Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Level 7, Therapies Building 84A, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.


This study was undertaken to investigate any relationship between sensory features and neck pain in female office workers using quantitative sensory measures to better understand neck pain in this group. Office workers who used a visual display monitor for more than four hours per day with varying levels of neck pain and disability were eligible for inclusion. There were 85 participants categorized according to their scores on the neck disability index (NDI): 33 with no pain (NDI<8); 38 with mild levels of pain and disability (NDI 9-29); 14 with moderate levels of pain (NDI30). A fourth group of women without neck pain (n=22) who did not work formed the control group. Measures included: thermal pain thresholds over the posterior cervical spine; pressure pain thresholds over the posterior neck, trapezius, levator scapulae and tibialis anterior muscles, and the median nerve trunk; sensitivity to vibrotactile stimulus over areas of the hand innervated by the median, ulnar and radial nerves; sympathetic vasoconstrictor response. All tests were conducted bilaterally. ANCOVA models were used to determine group differences between the means for each sensory measure. Office workers with greater self-reported neck pain demonstrated hyperalgesia to thermal stimuli over the neck, hyperalgesia to pressure stimulation over several sites tested; hypoaesthesia to vibration stimulation but no changes in the sympathetic vasoconstrictor response. There is evidence of multiple peripheral nerve dysfunction with widespread sensitivity most likely due to altered central nociceptive processing initiated and sustained by nociceptive input from the periphery.

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