Using thermography to identify neck pain

Thermography is atool utilized to identify temperature differences in muscle. The idea is that injured areas will automatically produce more spasm and result in increased heat changes at that site. There are several different systems and tools that base their information on the thermography to identify neck pain and joint misalignments.

The study looked to evaluate thermography and compared to healthy individuals and individuals at identifying themselves as with mild neck pain disability. Everyone was given a neck pain index and their scores were tallied. The groups were then measured with the thermography to identify temperature differences. There was no difference shown in patients with and without neck pain in her thermography scores. The study would indicate that thermography is not a good way to identify neck pain in individuals.

As with any study, it is only one in a sea of information. It is worth looking into to see if thermography shouldbe a tool even used to identify neck pain. In addition the subjects were also young college female students which may not applyto older individuals. A deeper search into all of the studies utilizing thermography may be needed to see if it’s a relevant tool in a clinical setting. Below is the abstract for your readingpleasure.

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

Volume 35, Issue 5 , Pages 413-417, June 2012

Assessment of the Upper Trapezius Muscle Temperature in Women With and Without Neck Pain.

AlmirVieira DibaiFilho, PT, Amanda CarinePacker, PT, Ana Cláudiade Souza Costa, PT, Kelly Cristina dos Santos Berni-Schwarzenbeck, PT, Delaine Rodrigues-Bigaton, PT, PhD



The purpose of the study was to analyze the upper trapezius muscle temperature using thermography in women with and without neck pain.


Thirty-six female university students were classified through the Neck Disability Index (NDI) into 2 groups: the neck pain group comprised 18 volunteers diagnosed with mild disability, and the control group, 18 healthy volunteers. All subjects were submitted to evaluation by thermography, which registered the skin surface temperature of the upper bilateral trapezius muscle. Student t test and Mann-Whitney U test were used for the comparison between the groups, and the Spearman correlation coefficient was used for the appropriate correlations between the NDI score and the temperature values. A significance level of 5% was set.


No significant difference was found between the groups regarding the temperature values of the upper left (P = .565) and right (P = .917)trapezius muscles, as well as in comparisons of temperature asymmetry (P = .542). In addition, no significant association was found between the study variables (P > .05).


Women with neck pain, diagnosed with mild disability by NDI, did not present with reduction or asymmetry of upper trapezius muscle temperature when compared with a group without neckpain.

© 2012 National University of Health Sciences. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. PubMed