Current perception threshold test and neck disorders
Approximately one-third of adults will experience neck pain each year, making it the third most prevalent musculoskeletal disorder. Attempts to categorise neck pain based on signs and symptoms has led to three common entities: neck pain without musculoskeletal signs; with musculoskeletal signs but no neurological signs; and with neurological signs.
Current pain threshold (CPT) is a tool used clinically to assess altered sensation, hypothesised to reflect neurological changes. The aim of the current study was to determine whether CPT can differentiate between categories of mechanical neck disorders (MNDs). An experienced physiotherapist blinded to CPT scores classified 106 patients into one of the three above categories of MNDs. The average CPT score differed significantly across the three groups with large effect sizes; patients with neck pain without musculoskeletal signs having the lowest score, compared with the highest values amongst patients with neurological signs.
These results suggest that CPT testing has moderate discriminatory accuracy, specificity, and sensitivity for the classification of patients presenting with mechanical neck pain disorders.