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Neck Pain Facts and Stats

How Common Is Neck Pain?

Neck Pain is the 4th leading cause of disability in the United States with annual prevalence ranging between 30-50%.  Prevalence is higher in women compared to men and peaks around 45 years of age.  At any given time 10-20% of the population reports neck pain with 54% of individuals experiencing neck discomfort within the past 6 months.  

 

Who Gets Neck pain?

Some studies have shown increased incidence of neck pain in individuals with sedentary desk jobs, manual laborers, and health care workers.  Risk factors for neck pain are similar to those of other musculoskeletal injuries and conditions including genetics, psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, poor coping skills, sleep disorders, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle.  Risk factors specific for neck pain include trauma (traumatic brain injury, car accident/whiplash) and injuries within sports such as direct injury/trauma to the neck and/or concussion.

 

Classifications/Types of Neck Pain

Neck pain can be classified with regards of length of time since onset. Acute being <6 weeks, subacute <3 months, and chronic >3 months.  Duration of neck pain is one of the greatest predictors of outcome of resolution of pain, the shorter duration of pain the greater likelihood of the pain resolving faster (<2 months). Proposed causes of neck pain include degenerative changes, disc protrusion, nerve impingement, impaired function of muscle, connective, and nervous tissue.  Neck pain can be with or without headaches and with or without pain/symptoms down the arm(s).  

 

Causes/Mechanism of Injury

One common causes of acute neck pain is waking up with a quick onset of stiffness and pain, you may feel like you slept on your neck wrong.  Another typical mechanism of injury is lifting up something with your arms, often overhead, and feeling a “tweak” in the neck.  Neck pain can also begin slowly with no apparent cause or traumatic injury.  Common patient complaints include difficulty turning their head especially when driving, headaches, pain radiating down into the shoulder/arm, and tension or pulling sensation in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.  These complaints may lead to a decreased ability to perform work related duties such as maintaining sitting or standing due to strong discomfort in the neck, difficulties driving, trouble sleeping, and increased pain with sport activities.

 

Stay tuned for neck pain and self treatment strategies!

-Dr. Jamie Wood DPT, CSCS