PURPOSE: This study compared the cross-sectional areas (CSA) of the cervical muscles of straight neck patients and normal participants during a craniocervical flexion exercise (CCFE) using computerized tomography (CT) to investigate the effects of CCFE on the cervical curve.
METHODS: Eighteen subjects were recruited for this study. Nine subjects were allocated to the straight neck group (subjects with pain and a cervical lordosis angle of less than 20°); the remainder formed the control group (subjects with a cervical lordosis angle greater than 20°). The CSA of the subjects’ neck flexors (longus colli, longus capitis, and sternocleidomastoid) were measured by CT during rest and CCFE in the supine position, and the range of motion (ROM)of neck flexion was measured using a C-ROM instrument in a sitting.
RESULTS: The straight neck group had a significantly smaller CSA of the longus colli, longus capitis, and sternocleidomastoid than the control group (p < .05). Both the straight neck and control groups showed statistically significant increases in the CSA of the neck flexors during CCFE compared to that at rest (p < .05). In addition, the straight neck group showed a significantly smaller ROM of neck flexion than the control group (p < .05).
CONCLUSION: The results of this study provide more concrete evidence for therapists by demonstrating that CCFE improves the neck function by strengthening the neck flexors and increasing the neck stability for straight neck patients. Therefore, it is necessary to perform CCFE and neck extension exercises to rehabilitate straight neck patients.