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Neck Pain Is Often Part of More Widespread Pain

Last Updated: December 01, 2010.

Patients who report neck pain generally report additional pain in other body sites and reduced functioning associated with this widespread pain, according to research published in the Nov. 1 issue of Spine.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who report neck pain generally report additional pain in other body sites and reduced functioning associated with this widespread pain, according to research published in the Nov. 1 issue of Spine.

Bard Natvig, M.D., of the University of Oslo in Norway, and colleagues investigated the relationship between neck pain, other pain, and functioning. The researchers sent questionnaires about musculoskeletal pain to residents of Ullensaker in Norway, comprising seven birth cohorts. They received 3,325 responses. The participants were required to report whether, during the previous week, they experienced pain in one or more of the following areas: head, neck, shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, upper back, lower back, hip, knee, and ankle/foot.

The researchers found that neck pain was reported most frequently as either regional pain (15.9 percent) or part of widespread pain (14.8 percent). Only 1.4 percent reported localized neck pain. Those who had neck pain that was part of widespread pain reported reduced functioning compared with other neck pain groups.

"Epidemiological research on neck pain that does not assess other pain sites will miss a crucial dimension. Also, in clinical medicine, increased awareness of pain patterns coexisting with neck pain might be important in the search for causes, prediction of prognosis, as well as choice of treatment," the authors conclude.

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