Review written by Shruti Nambiar info


Neck pain (NP) in this review was defined as pain within the cervical spine and muscles originating from the cervical region acting on the head and shoulders. NP is a common health issue faced by the general population with a 27%-50% yearly prevalence. Recurrence of NP occurs in 50%-75% of the affected population. NP sufferers undergo individual, social and notable economic consequences. NP as a condition is ranked fourth as measured by years lived with disability (YLDs). This systematic review aims to identify physical, psychosocial and demographic risk factors for the development of NP from pain-free state or from recurrent episode.


Studies were selected by screening electronic databases. This systematic review followed PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines.

Eligibility characteristics:

  • Longitudinal or observational studies
  • Age ≥ 18 years and pain-free state (for any period of time) at enrolment
  • Pain-free patients during enrolment with recurrent neck pain
  • Studies reporting statistically significant physical or psychosocial risk factors
  • Studies reporting demographic risk factors regardless of significance if these risk factors were reported as significant previously in the literature

Excluded studies reported incidence rates for NP along with pain in other areas and failed to report effect estimates for risk factors. Data collected included number of subjects, age, type of population (community/occupational), follow-up period, episode and incidence of NP. Risk of bias assessment was done at the study level.


10/878 studies were included in the systematic review. Incidence of NP ranged from 3.70% to 25% (mean incidence - 15.95%). Risk factors were categorised and further sub-divided based on the strength of risk ratio as protective (

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