Assessing disability (NDI)

The Neck Disability Index (NDI) is designed to measure neck-specific disability and is based on the Oswestry Disability Questionnaire.

The questionnaire has 10 items concerning pain and activities of daily living including personal care, lifting, reading, headaches, concentration, work status, driving, sleeping and recreation. Each item is scored out of 5 (with the ‘no disability’ response given a score of 0) giving a total score for the questionnaire out of 50. Higher scores represent greater disability. The result can be expressed as a percentage or as raw scores (out of 50).

In the guidelines, use of the raw score is recommended. Using the neck disability index form, the scores are automatically calculated.

Recommended action

Provide more concerted treatment or consider earlier referral to a clinician with expertise in the management of whiplash for patients with high disability related to neck pain – e.g. NDI score greater than 15/50 (P1, page 19 guidelines).

Vernon, H. and S. Mior, The Neck Disability Index: a study of reliability and validity. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 1991. 14(7): p. 409-15.
Fairbank, J., et al., The Oswestry low back pain disability questionnaire. Physiotherapy, 1980. 66(8): p. 271-273.