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Chiropractic Research Review

Predicting Neck Pain

It is sometimes assumed that the established risk factors for back pain also apply to neck pain, although only limited studies have addressed any of the specific factors that may predict the incidence, recurrence or persistence of neck disorders.

A 12-month study conducted among 691 workers in various occupations attempted to determine predictive factors contributing to the development of neck pain. Active workers from four different occupations (hospital, warehouse, office and airport) completed a self-administered questionnaire at baseline and 12 months later. The questionnaire assessed musculoskeletal symptoms in the previous six months and also inquired about psychosomatic and psychological problems; working conditions; and overall job satisfaction.

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Results: Gender, age, headaches/head pain, psychological distress and psychosomatic problems were predictive variables for incidence and persistence of neck disorders in the study population. In particular, 54.6% of subjects reporting high psychological distress developed neck pain, compared with only 32.4% of subjects reporting low distress.

The authors suggest that this potential association between psychological distress and musculoskeletal disorders may be attributed to increased muscle tension, pain perception, reduced treatment compliance and less control on occupational restraints. Interestingly, occupation was not associated with neck disorders; the authors believe that this association may build over time spent working in an occupation.

Leclerc A, Niedhammer I, Landre M-F, et al. One-year predictive factors for various aspects of neck disorders. Spine, July 15, 1999:24(14), pp1455-62.

Chiropractic Research Review

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