The Epidemiology of Neck Pain

, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wis.

In This Article

Incidence and Prevalence of Neck Pain

Neck pain has most frequently been studied in five different populations (Table I).

Incidence is the number of new cases of a disease which occur during a specified period of time, whereas prevalence is the number of cases present at any one time. Most reports in the medical literature are crude prevalence studies. Since neck pain has many causes, and a number of factors such as age, sex, occupation, and cigarette smoking effect its occurrence,[2] it is difficult to compare the results obtained from research done on differing study populations. In addition, most reports are based on questionnaires, so the cause of the pain cannot be validated; also, neck, shoulder, and upper-extremity pain are frequently considered together. Epidemiologic studies of neck pain can be divided into several categories, as listed in Table II and discussed in the following sections.


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