European Spine Journal

, Volume 17, Supplement 1, pp 39–51 | Cite as

The Burden and Determinants of Neck Pain in the General Population

Results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders
  • Sheilah Hogg-JohnsonEmail author
  • Gabrielle van der Velde
  • Linda J. Carroll
  • Lena W. Holm
  • J. David Cassidy
  • Jamie Guzman
  • Pierre Côté
  • Scott Haldeman
  • Carlo Ammendolia
  • Eugene Carragee
  • Eric Hurwitz
  • Margareta Nordin
  • Paul Peloso
Best Evidence

Study Design

Best evidence synthesis.


To undertake a best evidence synthesis of the published evidence on the burden and determinants of neck pain and its associated disorders in the general population.

Summary of Background Data

The evidence on burden and determinants of neck has not previously been summarized.


The Bone and Joint Decade 2000−2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders performed a systematic search and critical review of literature published between 1980 and 2006 to assemble the best evidence on neck pain. Studies meeting criteria for scientific validity were included in a best evidence synthesis.


We identified 469 studies on burden and determinants of neck pain, and judged 249 to be scientifically admissible; 101 articles related to the burden and determinants of neck pain in the general population. Incidence ranged from 0.055 per 1000 person years (disc herniation with radiculopathy) to 213 per 1000 persons (self-reported neck pain). Incidence of neck injuries during competitive sports ranged from 0.02 to 21 per 1000 exposures. The 12-month prevalence of pain typically ranged between 30% and 50%; the 12-month prevalence of activity-limiting pain was 1.7% to 11.5%. Neck pain was more prevalent among women and prevalence peaked in middle age. Risk factors for neck pain included genetics, poor psychological health, and exposure to tobacco. Disc degeneration was not identified as a risk factor. The use of sporting gear (helmets, face shields) to prevent other types of injury was not associated with increased neck injuries in bicycling, hockey, or skiing.


Neck pain is common. Nonmodifiable risk factors for neck pain included age, gender, and genetics. Modifiable factors included smoking, exposure to tobacco, and psychological health. Disc degeneration was not identified as a risk factor. Future research should concentrate on longitudinal designs exploring preventive strategies and modifiable risk factors for neck pain.


neck pain epidemiology incidence prevalence risk factors associated factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheilah Hogg-Johnson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 20
    Email author
  • Gabrielle van der Velde
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Linda J. Carroll
    • 6
  • Lena W. Holm
    • 7
  • J. David Cassidy
    • 5
    • 4
    • 8
  • Jamie Guzman
    • 9
    • 10
  • Pierre Côté
    • 5
    • 8
    • 4
    • 1
  • Scott Haldeman
    • 11
    • 12
  • Carlo Ammendolia
    • 4
    • 13
    • 3
  • Eugene Carragee
    • 14
    • 15
  • Eric Hurwitz
    • 16
  • Margareta Nordin
    • 17
    • 18
  • Paul Peloso
    • 19
  1. 1.Institute for Work and HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy, Management and EvaluationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Division of Health Care and Outcomes ResearchToronto Western Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Centre of Research Expertise in Improved Disability Outcomes (CREIDO)University Health Network Rehabilitation Solutions, Toronto Western HospitalTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of Public Health Sciences, and the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  7. 7.Institute of Environmental MedicineKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  8. 8.Departments of Public Health Sciences and Health Policy, Management and EvaluationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  9. 9.Department of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  10. 10.Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Health care in British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  11. 11.Department of NeurologyUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  12. 12.Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  13. 13.Centre for Research Expertise in Improved Disability Outcomes (CREIDO)University Health NetworkTorontoCanada
  14. 14.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryStanford University School of MedicineStanford USA
  15. 15.Orthopedic Spine Center and Spinal Surgery ServiceStanford University Hospital and ClinicsStanfordUSA
  16. 16.Department of Public Health Sciences, John A. Burns School of MedicineUniversity of Hawaii at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  17. 17.Departments of Orthopedics and Environmental Medicine and Program of Ergonomics and Biomechanics, School of Medicine and Graduate School of Arts and ScienceNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  18. 18.Occupational and Industrial Orthopedic Center (OIOC)New York University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  19. 19.Endocrinology, Analgesia and InflammationMerck & Co.RahwayUSA
  20. 20.Institute for Work and HealthTorontoCanada

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