Compensatory head posture and neck problems: is there an association? A cohort study of nystagmus patients.


Journal Article

PURPOSE: The aims of this study were twofold: to investigate if a compensatory head posture due to nystagmus causes long-term neck problems or adversely effects quality of life and to survey ophthalmologists on their opinions and management of these patients. METHODS: A case-controlled study was carried out to assess the range of neck movements in patients with compensatory head posture due to congenital nystagmus. Exclusion criteria included known neck problems, vertebrobasilar insufficiency, and age less than 16 years. Neck movements were assessed using an inclinometer. Quality of life and disability was assessed using the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Cervical Spine Questionnaire. One hundred and fifty consultant ophthalmologists throughout the United Kingdom were surveyed via a postal questionnaire. RESULTS: The range of motion in these patients (n=20) was limited when compared to matched controls especially for lateral flexion (P=0.001) and extension (P=0.003). However, despite limited movement, patients did not perceive a disability and there was no adverse effect on quality of life. In all 55% of ophthalmologists believed compensatory head posture due to nystagmus leads to long-term neck problems. About 46% had personal experience of patients with long-term neck problems due to nystagmus. Eighty-four per cent were influenced in their decision to operate by the presence of a head posture. CONCLUSIONS: Significant restriction in neck movements exists in nystagmus patients with compensatory head posture, although this does not appear to adversely affect quality of life.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Morris, B; Smith, V; Elphick, J; Laws, DE

Published Date

  • February 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 279 - 283

PubMed ID

  • 18344967

Pubmed Central ID

  • 18344967

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-5454

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0950-222X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/sj.eye.6703087


  • eng