Musculoskeletal disorders are a very common health issue among adult’s in nowadays’ industrialised society. Musculoskeletal disorders of the cervical spine causing neck pain are reported to be experienced by 50 to 70% of the population at some point in their life.1,2 About 19% of adults suffer from chronic neck pain at any given time2 while 5% are affected in their activities due to their neck disorders1. The high prevalence of chronic neck pain shows the importance of evidence based therapeutic interventions.
Assessments are an important tool for the evaluation of musculoskeletal disorders in clinical practice. In times where health services need to prove the effort of techniques based on evidence, standardized assessment tools for the monitoring of progress are required. Quality criteria as reliability and validity need to be fulfilled to guarantee the quality of implemented assessments.
Due to the multifactorial findings in patients with chronic neck pain, health care professions are still facing challenges in their treatments. On the physical level alterations in structure and function of the deep cervical flexor and extensor muscles, reduced range of neck motion, proprioceptive deficits, oculomotor disturbances, impaired postural control and general sensitization of the central nervous system are reported.1 Dreisinger (2014) classifies outcome measures into indirect, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and objective, clinician-based-outcomes (CBOs).3
CBO assessments describe physiological or biomechanical parameters as range of motion (ROM), muscle strength and measured activities of daily living, whereas PROs include any kind of pain scale, Disability Indices, and questionnaires for assessing quality of life.
Multiple assessments for the different outcome parameters of patients suffering from chronic neck pain do exist. Research on the evidence concerning reliability and validity are reported to be still scarce.4 For evidence based physiotherapeutical intervention founded knowledge of assessments meeting these quality criteria is an urgent need. The aim of this thesis is to point out reliable and valid assessment tools for evidence based measurement of said alterations in structure and function in patients with nonspecific chronic neck pain.
How do currently established assessments for nonspecific chronic neck pain concerning clinician-based-outcomes perform regarding chosen quality criteria reliability and validity?