Yearly, 30-50% of people experience neck pain, with many individuals experiencing what is referred to as ‘subclinical neck pain’ (SCNP), indicating lower grade dysfunction with recurrent flare-ups of pain which often go untreated. Several studies have shown altered proprioceptive and neuromuscular function in people with SCNP which is caused by altered afferent input and plastic changes in the central nervous system (CNS) due to repetition and overuse. This altered input can lead to altered sensorimotor integration (SMI), altered motor output, and impairments in motor control. It has also been hypothesized that patients with SCNP may process visual and auditory inputs differently, leading to altered multisensory integration.

Generally, we utilize multiple sensory inputs in order to form accurate responses, however, when one sense is less reliable or is providing contradictory information, combining stimuli may not enhance accuracy. So, although we know that proprioception is impaired in SCNP, it is unclear how this affects the integration of other senses.

The purpose of this study was to examine differences in multisensory integration and uni/multisensory response times in patients with SCNP compared to asymptomatic individuals over a 4-week interval with no treatment given for the SCNP. The authors hypothesized that participants with SCNP would demonstrate slower response times for both uni- and multisensory conditions due to the ongoing effects of unreliable proprioceptive feedback from the neck.
The overarching question is - can manual therapy, like spinal manipulation, influence this system? A topic for another paper, on another day...for now, LOG IN OR SUBSCRIBE TO ACCESS THIS REVIEW!
sensorimotor integration