The aim of this study was to systematically review the evidence on respiratory function changes in patients with chronic neck pain. MEDLINE, Elsevier, ProQuest, PubMed, Scopus, Springer, and Google scholar electronic databases were explored thorough December 2015. English-language studies investigating cervical musculoskeletal and respiratory parameters in patients with chronic neck pain were included. Characteristics of the patients, sampling method and size, musculoskeletal and respiratory parameters studied, and appropriateness of the statistical tests were considered. Studies were rated based on study design and performance. Of the 68 studies reviewed, 9 observational studies met our inclusion criteria. Significant difference in maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressures were reported in patients with chronic neck pain compared to asymptomatic subjects. Some of the respiratory volumes were found to be lower in patients with chronic neck pain. Muscle strength and endurance, cervical range of motion, and psychological states were found to be significantly correlated with respiratory parameters. Lower Pco2 in patients and significant relationship between chest expansion and neck pain were also shown. Respiratory retraining was found to be effective in improving some cervical musculoskeletal and respiratory impairment.
Functional pulmonary impairments accompany chronic neck pain. Based on the observed association, investigation of the effectiveness of management of CNP on respiratory function is strongly suggested.