Joint position sense error in people with neck pain: A systematic review

Several studies in recent decades have examined the relationship between proprioceptive deficits and neck pain. However, there is no uniform conclusion on the relationship between the two. Clinically, proprioception is evaluated using the Joint Position Sense Error (JPSE), which reflects a person’s ability to accurately return his head to a predefined target after a cervical movement. Thw authors focused to differentiate between JPSE in people with neck pain compared to healthy controls. The data sources utilised were Embase, Medline OvidSP, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, CINAHL and Pubmed Publisher. To be included, studies had to compare JPSE of the neck (O) in people with neck pain (P) with JPSE of the neck in healthy controls (C). Fourteen studies were included. Four studies reported that participants with traumatic neck pain had a significantly higher JPSE than healthy controls. Of the eight studies involving people with non-traumatic neck pain, four reported significant differences between the groups. The JPSE did not vary between neck-pain groups.

Current literature shows the JPSE to be a relevant measure when it is used correctly. All studies which calculated the JPSE over at least six trials showed a significantly increased JPSE in the neck pain group. This strongly suggests that ‘number of repetitions’ is a major element in correctly performing the JPSE test.

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