European Spine Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 80–88 | Cite as

Neck pain and disability due to neck pain: what is the relation?

  • René FejerEmail author
  • Jan Hartvigsen
Original Article


Pain and disability are interrelated, but the relationship between pain and disability is not straightforward. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between neck pain (NP) intensity, NP duration, and disability based on the population-based ‘Funen Neck and Chest Pain’ study. Pain intensity was measured using 11-box numerical rating scales, pain duration was measured using the Standardized Nordic Questionnaire, and disability was measured by the Copenhagen Neck Functional Disability Scale. Spearman rank correlation coefficients and logistic regression analyses were used to measure correlations and strength of associations between pain intensity, pain duration, and disability given domain specific characteristics (socioeconomic, health and physical, comorbidity, and variables related to consequences of NP). Neck pain was very common, but mainly mild and did not result in major disability. The correlations between NP intensity and disability were moderate but strongly associated, whereas weaker correlations and almost no associations were found between NP duration and disability. Pain duration is a poor indicator of disability. Given these variations, pain intensity and disability should be considered as two distinct dimensions and measured separately. These results have implications for future clinical and epidemiological studies.


Cross-sectional postal survey Neck pain Neck disability Neck pain duration Correlations 



This study was supported by the Danish Foundation of Chiropractic Research and Post Graduate Education, and the Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Odense University Hospital.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Locomotion Science, Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark
  2. 2.School of Chiropractic, Division of Health SciencesMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanicspart of Clinical Locomotion ScienceOdenseDenmark

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