Did you know that about one and six Americans experience neck pain in a given three month timeframe? Neck pain is one of the major causes of a work leave of absence, a work injury, and an overall reduced quality of life. It is true that some risk factors for neck pain are avoidable but some are not.
A review done by a team of authors from Duke University‘s department of orthopedics suggest that work for requiring sustained and awkward positions was the main physical risk factor for neck pain. Some other studies have demonstrated that taking lots of breaks to reduce sitting time can reduce the risk for neck pain. They also found that improving sitting posture and workstation circumstances can help as well.
Despite this information, the team found that psychosocial risk factors are also just as and maybe even more important in the development of neck pain. By psychosocial factors, the team means depressed moods, job stress, and perceived muscular tension.
The review also took a look at factors that could reduce the risk for a first time episode of neck pain that may transition into chronic pain. These are the following protective factors: a supportive work and social environment, leisurely physical activity, and strong cervical extensor muscles endurance.
Some older studies have also reported on the presence of both psychosocial factors and weak neck muscles in patients who suffer from chronic neck pain. This includes major weakness of the deep neck flexor muscles. This comes as no surprise that the same factors were identified by the Duke team as being significant risk factors for first time neck pain and chronic patients.
For the management of neck pain, treatments often include a multi modal, conservative approach. This includes manual therapies, neck exercises, and even changes in dietary choices. Some others may include stress and relaxation techniques, and improving sleep quality. These will all help in the healing process and to reduce the risk for neck pain.