Neck Pain and Proprioception Revisited Using the Proprioception Incongruence Detection Test

Daniel S Harvie, Susan Hillier, Victoria J Madden, Ross T Smith, Markus Broecker, Ann Meulders, G Lorimer Moseley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Proprioceptive imprecision is believed to contribute to persistent pain. Detecting imprecision in order to study or treat it remains challenging given the limitations of current tests.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine whether proprioceptive imprecision could be detected in people with neck pain by testing their ability to identify incongruence between true head motion and a false visual reference using the Proprioception Incongruence Detection (PID) Test.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study was conducted.

METHODS: Twenty-four people with neck pain and 24 matched controls repeatedly rotated to specific markers within a virtual world and indicated if their true head rotation was more or less than the rotation suggested by the visual feedback. Visual feedback was manipulated at 6 corrections, ranging from 60% of true movement to 140% of true movement. A standard repositioning error (RPE) test as undertaken for comparison.

RESULTS: Healthy controls were better able to detect incongruence between vision and true head rotation (X̅=75.6%, SD=8.5%) than people with neck pain were (X̅=69.6%, SD=12.7%). The RPE test scores were not different between groups. The PID Test score related to self-reported pain intensity but did not relate to RPE test score.

LIMITATIONS: Causality cannot be established from this cross-sectional study, and further work refining the PID Test is needed for it to offer clinical utility.

CONCLUSIONS: Proprioceptive precision for neck movement appears worse in people with neck pain than in those without neck pain, and the extent of the deficit appears to be related to usual pain severity. The PID Test appears to be a more sensitive test than the RPE test and is likely to be useful for assessment of proprioceptive function in research and clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-678
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Physical Therapy Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


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