|Neck pain is not a disease or injury, but a symptom. Neck pain can be of traumatic or atraumatic origin, and/or associated with systemic disease. Neck pain complaints with no other physical signs may be related to a cervical strain or sprain type injury. Most neck pain, however, develops spontaneously with no known trauma. Cervical spine pain also may be associated with shoulder pathology. When not attributable to a more serious and definite cause, neck pain is often called cervicalgia.|
The neck or cervical spine includes seven cervical vertebrae and has 37 joints. It supports the head, and moves the head in space hundreds of times an hour. Causes of neck pain include musculoskeletal conditions, neurological conditions, systemic conditions (e.g., osteoarthritis), and rheumatoid-related conditions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica). Neck pain may be related to soft tissue disorders, sustained use or sustained immobility of the neck, structural abnormalities, joint degeneration, psychological stress, or trauma. Soft-tissue-related neck pain can be caused by consistently poor posture while sitting or standing, repetitive activity, sports injuries, or the presence of an underlying condition such as a cervical disc degeneration or cervical disc herniation. Referred neck pain may originate from conditions in any organ system, including myocardial ischemia, gallbladder disease, hiatal hernia, gastrointestinal ulcers, and pancreatitis.
Neck pain is considered chronic when it has continued for at least 6 months. The etiology of chronic neck pain may be difficult to determine. Considerations include cervical zygapophyseal pain following a whiplash injury, soft tissue injury, cervical disc disease, and other conditions listed above. A link has also been suggested between chronic neck pain and the individual’s psychological state; many chronic pain conditions are believed to have some psychological impact or component.
Risk: Smoking, substance abuse, depression, obesity, history of chronic headache, and heavy physical work, such as repetitive heavy lifting, increase the risk of neck pain. A history of whiplash associated with automobile accidents is a significant risk factor for chronic neck pain; the average age of affected individuals is late 40s (Hunter).
Incidence and Prevalence: Neck pain is one of the most frequent complaints encountered by primary care physicians and neuromusculoskeletal specialists. Eighty-five percent of cases result from acute or repetitive neck injury, including an annual estimated incidence of 3.8 cases of whiplash in every 1000 individuals (Hunter). The lifetime prevalence of clinically significant neck pain is 40% to 70% (Rindfleisch); the one-year prevalence is 16% to 18% (Hunter).
Source: Medical Disability Advisor