Optimism, social support improve neck pain recovery

In brief

  • The strongest predictors for a better recovery from neck pain were having social support and better psychological health.
  • Psychosocial factors appear to be a promising area that can be targeted as coping strategies for pain.

Why was this review done?

Neck pain can improve, reoccur, persist or even worsen over time. This pattern is known as the “course” of neck pain, and it can be affected by treatment. Certain factors, such as a patient’s coping patterns, can determine the course of neck pain. Understanding these prognostic factors can encourage action to prevent neck pain. This study reviews the existing research on the course and prognosis of neck pain and its associated disorders in the general population.

How was the review done?

This review is part of The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and its Associated Disorders. The task force sought and reviewed research studies published between 1980 and 2006 on the course and prognosis of neck pain. From the 226 articles found this topic, 70 were considered to be of sufficient scientific quality to be included in the review.

What did the reviewers find?

Between half and three quarters of patients with neck pain report they have neck pain again in one to five years. The strongest predictors for a better recovery were having social support and better psychological health. Being optimistic and more confident led to better health results. Overall, younger patients reported better recovery than older patients. Becoming angry or frustrated was associated with a poorer prognosis.

What are some strengths and weaknesses of the review?

This is the first systematic review in this area of neck pain in the general population. However, the study results are limited by the small number of high quality studies in this area.

Publication Information

Title: 

Author(s): 

Carroll L, Hogg-Johnson S, van der Velde G, Haldeman S, Holm L, Carragee E, Hurwitz E, Côté P, Nordin M, Peloso P, Guzman J, Cassidy D

Journal: 

Spine, 2008: vol. 33, no. 4S, pp. S75-S82