Depressed Mood Triples Risk for Chronic Neck Pain in Office Workers

As such, greater cervical extensor endurance and DNIC exerted a protective effect (OR = .92 [95% CI, 0.88 – 0.97; P = .001] and OR = 0.90 [95% CI, 0.83 – 0.98; P = .02], respectively).

Although the risk-lowering effects of leisure physical activity (OR = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.88 – 0.97; P < .01) were not retained in multivariate analysis, the authors suggest that exercise is still likely to be of particular benefit for individuals who spend most of their workday in a sedentary occupation.

Routine Screening On the Horizon

“Clinicians can use this information to screen for individuals who may be at risk by measuring things such as mood, neck endurance, and conditioned pain modulation. These assessments are all easily administered in a clinical environment and can provide meaningful information on prognosis,” Dr. Shahidi pointed out.

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Eric Robertson, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, from the University of Texas department of physical therapy in El Paso, and spokesman for the American Physical Therapy Association, concurs.

“If we identify [relevant risk factors] we can intervene ahead of time and we can head off chronic pain,” Dr. Robertson told Clinical Pain Advisor. Dr. Robertson was not involved in the study.

Future studies are needed to verify the efficacy of screening and prevention programs to ensure that improved mood, muscle endurance, and pain inhibition actually decrease the incidence of chronic neck pain in office workers, Dr. Shahidi concluded.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, and a Promotion of Doctoral Studies scholarship from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The authors report no conflicts of interest.