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The clinical utility of cervical range of motion in diagnosis, prognosis, and evaluating the effects of manipulation: a systematic review

Abstract

Background

Clinicians commonly assess cervical range of motion (ROM), but it has rarely been critically evaluated for its ability to contribute to patient diagnosis or prognosis, or whether it is affected by mobilisation/manipulation.

Objectives

This review summarises the methods used to measure cervical ROM in research involving patients with cervical spine disorders, reviews the evidence for using cervical ROM in patient diagnosis, prognosis, and evaluation of the effects of mobilisation/manipulation on cervical ROM.

Data sources and study selection

A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED and ICL databases was conducted, addressing one of four constructs related to cervical ROM: measurement, diagnosis, prognosis, and the effects of mobilisation/manipulation on cervical ROM.

Study appraisal and synthesis

Two independent raters appraised methodological quality using the QUADAS-2 tool for diagnostic studies, the QUIPS tool for prognostic studies and the PEDro scale for interventional studies. Heterogeneity of studies prevented meta-analysis.

Results

Thirty-six studies met the criteria and findings showed there is limited evidence for the diagnostic value of cervical ROM in cervicogenic headache, cervical radiculopathy and cervical spine injury. There is conflicting evidence for the prognostic value of cervical ROM, though restricted ROM appears associated with negative outcomes while greater ROM is associated with positive outcomes. There is conflicting evidence as to whether cervical ROM increases or decreases following mobilisation/manipulation.

Conclusion and implications of key findings

Cervical ROM has value as one component of assessment, but clinicians should be cautious about making clinical judgments primarily on the basis of cervical ROM.

Funding

This collaboration was supported by an internal grant from the Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle.

Cite this article

The clinical utility of cervical range of motion in diagnosis, prognosis, and evaluating the effects of manipulation: a systematic review Snodgrass, Suzanne J. et al. Physiotherapy , Volume 100 , Issue 4 , 290 - 304

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