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Characteristics of visual disturbances reported by subjects with neck pain

Manual Therapy
DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2014.01.005
  • Visual Disturbance
  • Neck Pain
  • Whiplash
  • Medicine


Abstract Visual symptoms are often reported by patients with neck pain. The aim of the study was to report on the prevalence and most troublesome visual disturbances in subjects with neck pain. Seventy subjects with neck pain and seventy healthy control subjects answered questions about the presence and magnitude (/12) – product of frequency (0–4) and intensity (0–3) of each of 16 visual symptoms noted to be associated with neck pain and other possible causes. A visual complaint index (VCI) (/168) was generated from the sum of the magnitude rating of 14 significant symptoms. The neck pain group had significantly (P > 0.05) greater prevalence and magnitude of 14/16 visual complaints and VCI (mean 27.4) compared to control subjects (mean 6.2). The most prevalent symptoms were ‘need to concentrate to read’ (70%) and ‘sensitivity to light’ (58.6%). The least prevalent were ‘double vision’ (28.6%) and ‘dizzy reading’ (38.6%). The most troublesome symptoms (greatest magnitude) were ‘need to concentrate to read’ (3.4/12), ‘visual fatigue’ (3/12), 'difficulty judging distances' (2.1/12) and 'sensitivity to light' (2.1/12) while the least troublesome complaints were 'double vision' (0.5/12), 'red eyes' (1/12) and 'spots and words moving' (1/12). The characteristics of the visual symptoms were mostly consistent for those previously associated with neck pain. Subjects with traumatic neck pain had a significantly higher VCI compared to those with idiopathic neck pain. The results could help with differential diagnosis. The visual symptoms might be related to eye movement control disturbances in neck pain, however further research is required.

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