The Global Burden of Neck Pain: Estimates From the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study

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SOURCE:   Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 (Jul); 73 (7): 1309–1315

Damian Hoy, Lyn March, Anthony Woolf, Fiona Blyth, Peter Brooks, Emma Smith, Theo Vos, Jan Barendregt, Jed Blore, Chris Murray, Roy Burstein, Rachelle Buchbinder

University of Queensland,
Herston, Queensland, Australia.

OBJECTIVE:   To estimate the global burden of neck pain.

METHODS:   Neck pain was defined as pain in the neck with or without pain referred into one or both upper limbs that lasts for at least 1 day. Systematic reviews were performed of the prevalence, incidence, remission, duration and mortality risk of neck pain. Four levels of severity were identified for neck pain with and without arm pain, each with their own disability weights. A Bayesian meta-regression method was used to pool prevalence and derive missing age/sex/region/year values. The disability weights were applied to prevalence values to derive the overall disability of neck pain expressed as years lived with disability (YLDs). YLDs have the same value as disability-adjusted life years as there is no evidence of mortality associated with neck pain.

RESULTS:   The global point prevalence of neck pain was 4.9% (95% CI 4.6 to 5.3). Disability-adjusted life years increased from 23.9 million (95% CI 16.5 to 33.1) in 1990 to 33.6 million (95% CI 23.5 to 46.5) in 2010. Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study, neck pain ranked 4th highest in terms of disability as measured by YLDs, and 21st in terms of overall burden.

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CONCLUSIONS:   Neck pain is a common condition that causes substantial disability. With aging global populations, further research is urgently needed to better understand the predictors and clinical course of neck pain, as well as the ways in which neck pain can be prevented and better managed.

KEYWORDS:   Epidemiology; Health services research; Outcomes research

From the FULL TEXT Article:


Neck pain occurs commonly throughout the world and causes substantial disability and economic cost. [1] The pain and disability associated with neck pain have a large impact on individuals and their families, communities, healthcare systems and businesses. [2–4] Economic consequences include the cost of healthcare, reduced work productivity, work absenteeism and insurance. As part of the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study (GBD 2010), the global burden of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions was estimated. Burden was expressed in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

This paper details the methods and results for estimating the global burden of neck pain for GBD 2010. It is part of a series of articles. The main overall articles for GBD 2010 were published in the Lancet, [5–9] and the MSK-specific papers are published in this issue of Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. [10–18] One of these papers give an in-depth description of the methods used for estimating the global burden of the MSK conditions [15] and this should be read in conjunction with the current paper.

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