The relative effectiveness of proprioceptive exercises as an adjunct to cervical spine manipulation in the treatment of chronic cervical spine pain and disability associated with whiplash injury
Whiplash injuries are thought to occur in as many as one-fifth of all MVA’s in the United States and Canada. South Africa may have a higher incidence of whiplash injuries due to the exceptionally high road accident rate when compared with international norms (Burger 1996:478). The incidence rate is higher among female subjects and people aged 20-24 years (Teasell and Shapiro 1998: 72, Spitzer et al. 1995). Whiplash injuries or whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) often result in chronic pain with a poor response to conventional therapeutics. Manipulation, exercise and anti-inflammatories have been identified as the options with scientifically established validity in the management of WAD (Spitzer et al. 1995) Patients with WAD have a distortion of the posture control system as a result of disorganised neck proprioceptive activity. It would therefore appear that proprioceptive rehabilitative exercises would benefit WAD sufferers (Revel et al. 1994, Gimse et al. 1996). Spinal manipulation has also been shown to have a significant effect on proprioceptive-dependent abilities in subjects with chronic neck pain (Rogers 1997). This suggests that a combination of manipulation and proprioceptive rehabilitation may offer an improved treatment protocol for WAD (Fitz-Ritson 1995). The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate the relative effectiveness of proprioceptive exercises and cervical spine manipulation compared to manipulation alone, in terms of subjective and objective measures, in the treatment of whiplash-associated disorders.