Brief Article
Copyright ©2012 Baishideng Publishing Group Co., Limited. All rights reserved.
World J Rheumatol. Oct 3, 2012; 2(2): 21-26
Published online Oct 3, 2012. doi: 10.5499/wjr.v2.i2.21
Spinal accessory neuropathy in patients with chronic neck pain
Mohamed A Hefny, Mona S Ghaly, Sahar M Greish, Noha M Abogresha, Ayman E Fahim
Mohamed A Hefny, Mona S Ghaly, Department of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, 4111 Ismailia, Egypt
Sahar M Greish, Noha M Abogresha, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, 4111 Ismailia, Egypt
Ayman E Fahim, Department of Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, 4111 Ismailia, Egypt
Author contributions: Ghaly MS, Hefny MA, Greish SM, Abogresha NM and Fahim AE wrote the paper; Fahim AE performed the statistics and revised the manuscript; Greish SM and Abogresha NM revised the literature and the electrodiagnostic data and helped in editing the manuscript; Ghaly MS and Hefny MA recruited the patients, performed rheumatologic examination and electrodiagnosis, revised statistical data, and helped in submitting the manuscript.
Correspondence to: Mona S Ghaly, MD, Department of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, 4111 Ismailia, Egypt.
Telephone: +20-14-3516507 Fax: +20-64-3230539
Received: July 14, 2012
Revised: August 31, 2012
Accepted: September 6, 2012
Published online: October 3, 2012

AIM: To assess the presence of spinal accessory neuropathy in patients with chronic neck pain.

METHODS: Patients with pain either regional or focal in the neck or shoulders for at least 6 mo (chronic neck pain) were recruited randomly from the Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Outpatient Clinic at the Faculty of Medicine-Suez Canal University. Two groups were compared: 30 patients with chronic neck pain with mean age (36.97 ± 12.45 years) and 10 apparently healthy controls. Trapezius muscle examination including inspection and range of motion both active and passive was performed. A full clinical neurological examination was carried out to exclude peripheral neuropathy and motor neuron disease. According to the subject’s type of work, cases were categorized into labor-intensive and non-labor intensive tasks. A nerve conduction study (NCS) was performed on spinal accessory nerves at both sides for all patients and controls. Parameters including latencies and amplitudes of compound motor action potential (CMAP) were compared with the chronicity of neck pain using the neck disability score. This cross sectional study was carried in the Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Department, at Suez Canal University Hospital, Ismailia, Egypt.

RESULTS: Physical examination revealed that 80% of cases had spinal trapezius muscle spasm. Restricted neck motion was present in 16.6% of cases. No one suffered from muscle wasting or weakness. Pain was bilateral in 18 patients (60%), localized to the right side in six patients (20%) and localized to the left side in six patients (20%). The causes of neck pain in the patients studied were nonspecific, due to physical stresses, cervical spondylosis and mild cervical disc herniation. Mean disease duration in patients with labor-intensive tasks was (3.9 ± 2.1 years), which was longer than that in patients with non-labor intensive tasks (3.1 ± 1.9 years); however, this difference was statistically insignificant. Spinal accessory NCSs were performed while subjects were in sitting positions and relaxed with naturally suspended arms to minimize muscular movement. The results of electrophysiological studies revealed that mean right and left latencies of the spinal accessory nerve were 2.96 ± 0.69 ms, 2.98 ± 0.61 ms in the patient group and 2.44 ± 0.38 ms, 2.33 ± 0.36 ms in control group respectively. These differences were statistically significant with P = 0.028 and 0.006 respectively. Spinal accessory NCS showed normal CMAP amplitude in both patients and controls. Comparing the results of the neck disability index (NDI) to different characteristics in patients with chronic neck pain, showed that patients with labor-intensive work had a higher NDI score mean (34.7 ± 9.5) compared to those with non-labor-intensive work, with significant statistical difference (P = 0.011). In addition, mean NDI scores were higher in males, and patients aged over 40 years and this difference was statistically significant (P = 0.007 and P = 0.009 respectively). Correlation studies between right and left spinal accessory nerve latencies and disability percent calculated using the NDI revealed a positive correlation. Moreover, there was a positive correlation between age and disability percent.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates electrophysiological evidence of demyelination in a significant proportion of patients with chronic cervical pain.

Keywords: Accessory nerve, Electrophysiology, Chronic neck pain, Neck disability index questionnaire