, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 963-971,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 12 Feb 2010

The experience and management of neck pain in general practice: the patients’ perspective

Abstract

The objective of this study is to investigate the perspective and expectation of patients presenting with neck pain in general practice. The study design is a qualitative analysis of patient interviews and was conducted in a primary care setting in Germany. Twenty patients aged 20–78, according to theoretical sampling were included in the study. Patients tried to cope autonomously with the situation and consulted GPs only if their self-help had failed. When patients asked for external help, they usually focused on somatic treatment options such as massage, physiotherapy or injections. Most patients reported to have experiences with somatic therapies; however, they felt that some or all of these treatments were inefficient or led only to short-time improvements. Patients often avoided psychosocial themes when talking to doctors for fear of being branded as ‘neurotic’. Although neck pain is difficult to manage and a burden for patients, they have obviously found a way of both living with their pain and a pragmatic approach of talking about their symptoms with their doctor. According to the patients’ statements, the interaction between doctor and patient seems to be rather distant, ensuring that both sides avoid any issues that might touch upon psychological aspects of neck pain.