Neck muscle dysfunction has been considered as risk factor or consequence of voice disorders. This study investigates the correlation between neck and voice-related subjective symptoms in patients with voice disorders.
Retrospective case-control study.
100 adult patients (59 female and 41 male) over 18 years with a mean age of 50.01 years (SD 16, range 24-87), of which 68 were under 60 years, were included. 50 patients had organic voice pathologies and 50 functional dysphonia. Outcome measures were the Voice Handicap Index 9 international (VHI-9i) and the Neck Disability Index (NDI-G). Spearman rank order coefficient was applied to determine the correlation between overall and single item VHI and NDI results. Subanalyses were done for functional vs. organic disorder, gender and age ± 60 years.
Mean overall VHI-9i (13.93, SD = 7.81, range = 0-31) and mean NDI-G (6.07, SD = 7.71, range = 0-43) showed a significant mild correlation (r = 0.220, P = 0.02). Split into subgroups the relation was stronger in patients with organic pathologies (r = 0.297, P = 0.03), but not significant in functional disorders (r = 0.148, P = 0.30). There was a moderate relation in men (r = 0.317, P = 0.04). Single item correlation was highest between VHI-9i item P4 (physiological) and NDI-G item reading (cognitive functioning) (r = 0.480, P = 0.002).
Specifically patients with organic voice disorders showed increased voice symptoms with the presence of neck dysfunction. This indicates a risk for a functional imbalance of the muscles surrounding the larynx, which in extreme cases may hinder functional voice rehabilitation even after phonosurgery. Therefore, neck dysfunction should be considered in voice diagnostics.