Only a history of neck pain and being a woman are likely risk factors for neck pain
Two articles on PainSci cite Paksaichol 2012: 1. The Complete Guide to Chronic Tension Headaches 2. The Complete Guide to Neck Pain & Cricks
PainSci commentary on Paksaichol 2012: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
As of 2017, I think this 2012 review is still the best available about neck pain risk factors, but the conclusions are weak due to a lack of good quality data to review.
The purpose of this review was to focus on the only kind of science (“prospective cohort studies”) that can properly determine factors that cause neck pain. Most research on this topic so far has
only allowed for the association between exposures and outcome to be examined. It is therefore not possible to establish the causal relationship between exposures and outcome. Research to identify the risk factors of neck pain requires longitudinal research design, which permits the tracking of study participants over time.
They found only five suitable high quality studies, and a couple of lower quality ones, all of them so different that no statistical analysis was possible. Basically, the authors were limited to giving us their subjective impressions of these five studies. With regards to psychological factors — as well as some other usual suspects — they didn't really see much.
Interestingly, for a large number of factors that have been mentioned in the literature as risk factors for neck pain, such as high physical leisure activity, low social support, and high psychosocial stress, we found no predictive value for future neck pain in office workers.
This isn’t evidence of absence: there just wasn’t enough of the right kind of data on the topic. “Most variables have been investigated by only one study.” They did find “strong evidence for … not having predictive value” of high keyboard usage time and poor perception of computer placement. Interesting.
This paper is quite similar to McLean et al, but with higher standards and two years fresher. McLean et al. judged several more risk factors to be supported by “strong” evidence: “older age, female gender, high job demands, low social or work support, being an ex-smoker, a history of low back disorders and a history of neck disorders.” They also specifically called out the lack of evidence regarding “many clinical, physical, psychological and socio-demographic variables.”
It’s also similar to Jun et al, which is five years fresher but also not as rigorous.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
The purpose of this study was to systematically review prospective cohort studies to gain insights into risk factors for the development of non-specific neck pain in office workers as well as to assess the strength of evidence. Publications were systematically searched from 1980 - March 2011 in several databases. The following key words were used: neck pain paired with risk or prognostic factors and office or computer or visual display unit or visual display terminal. Relevant studies were retrieved and assessed for methodological quality by two independent reviewers. The strength of the evidence was based on methodological quality and consistency of the results. Five high-quality and two low-quality prospective cohort studies investigating the predictive value of 47 individual, work-related physical and work-related psychosocial factors for the onset of non-specific neck pain in office workers were included in this review. Strong evidence was found for female gender and previous history of neck complaints to be predictors of the onset of neck pain. Interestingly, for a large number of factors that have been mentioned in the literature as risk factors for neck pain, such as high physical leisure activity, low social support, and high psychosocial stress, we found no predictive value for future neck pain in office workers. Literature with respect to the development of non-specific neck pain in office workers is scant. Only female gender and previous history of neck complaints have been identified as risk factors that predict the onset of neck pain.
- “Risk factors for the onset of non-specific neck pain: a systematic review,” McLean et al, J Epidemiol Community Health, 2010.
- “The impact of workplace risk factors on the occurrence of neck and upper limb pain: a general population study,” Sim et al, BMC Public Health, 2006.
- “Physical and psychosocial risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in New Zealand nurses, postal workers and office workers,” Harcombe et al, Inj Prev, 2010.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- Is there a relationship between throbbing pain and arterial pulsations? Mirza 2012 J Neurosci.