649. The association between cervical degenerative MRI findings and self-reported neck pain, disability and headache: a cross-sectional exploratory study.
Jensen RK, Dissing KB, Jensen TS, Clausen SH, Arnbak B.
Chiropractic and Manual Therapies. 2023 Oct 11;31(1):45.
Neck pain and headache are highly prevalent conditions and leading causes of disability worldwide. Although MRI is widely used in the management of these conditions, there is uncertainty about the clinical significance of cervical MRI findings in patients with neck pain or headache. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the association between cervical degenerative MRI findings and self-reported neck pain, neck disability, and headache.
This study was a secondary analysis of a cohort of patients with low back pain aged 18-40 years recruited from a non-surgical outpatient spine clinic. The cervical MRI and outcome measures used in this analysis were collected at a four-year follow-up (2014-2017). Self-reported outcome measures included neck pain intensity, neck disability as measured by the Neck Disability Index, and headache as measured by a single NDI item. Cervical MRI findings included disc degeneration, disc contour changes, and vertebral endplate signal changes (VESC). Multivariable logistic regression analyses, adjusted for age and sex, were used to analyse the associations between MRI findings and neck pain, neck disability, and headache.
A total of 600 participants who underwent MRI and completed the relevant questionnaires at follow-up were included. The median age was 37 years (interquartile range 31-41) and 325 (54%) were female. Of the included participants, 181 (31%) had moderate or severe neck pain, 274 (59%) had moderate or severe neck disability, 193 (42%) reported headaches, and 211 (35%) had one or more cervical degenerative MRI findings. Cervical disc degeneration and disc contour changes were positively associated with moderate or severe neck pain with odds ratio 1.6 (95% CI 1.1-2.4) and 1.6 (1.1-2.3), respectively. VESC was associated with moderate or severe neck disability with odds ratio 3.3 (1.3-8.4). No statistically significant associations were found between the MRI findings assessed and headache.
In this cross-sectional exploratory study, we found that cervical disc degeneration and disc contour changes were associated with neck pain, and VESC was associated with neck disability. None of the MRI findings were associated with headache. The results suggest that cervical degenerative changes may contribute to the aetiology of neck symptoms, but the associations are modest and cannot guide clinical decisions.
Disc contour; Disc degeneration; Headache; MRI; Neck Disability Index; Neck pain; Vertebral endplate signal changes.