Cross-sectional, population-based postal survey.
To investigate the relationship between neck pain, pain in other sites and functioning.
Summary of Background Data.
Neck pain is one of the most commonly reported musculoskeletal pain sites, and people with neck pain often report pain in other pain sites. Reduced functioning is associated with widespread pain. The relationship between neck pain with and without pain from other pain sites and functioning has not been described.
In 2004, a questionnaire about musculoskeletal pain and functioning was sent to 7 birth cohorts in Ullensaker municipality in Norway, to which 3325 of 6108 persons (54.4%) responded. Musculoskeletal symptoms were registered using the Standard Nordic Questionnaire. Neck pain was categorized as localized neck pain (neck), regional neck pain (neck, shoulder, head, upper back), neck pain as part of scattered pain (1–3 other pain sites and not regional), or widespread pain (neck and ≥4 other pain sites). Functional status was assessed using the Norwegian Function Assessment Scale.
The 1-week prevalence of any neck pain was 34.4% (95% CI, 32.8–36.0). Localized neck pain was reported by only 1.4% of our population. Neck pain was most often regional (15.9%) or part of widespread pain (14.8%). People with neck pain as part of widespread pain had reduced function compared with any other group with neck pain.
Localized neck pain was rare, and neck pain was almost always a part of either regional or widespread pain. Research on neck pain and functioning that do not assess other pain sites may miss a crucial dimension.