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Feature Article

A practical checklist for managing: chronic neck pain

ERIC J. VISSER, JODIE L. ZOLLNER

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© PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/SPL
© PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/SPL

Abstract

Long-term management of neck pain requires multimodal therapy similar to that for managing chronic low back pain. Psychosocial care and education are important options. Other treatments, particularly physiotherapy, are often directed at managing acute neck pain flare-ups.

Key Points

  • About 20% of people who sustain a painful acute neck injury will develop chronic neck pain over the following 12 months.
  • Risk factors for developing chronic neck pain include severe acute neck pain, whiplash-associated disorder, psychosocial stressors, work factors, chronic headache, sleep disturbance, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking.
  • Screening for red and yellow flags at every consultation is vital.
  • Treatments are often directed at managing acute pain flare-ups.
  • Most studies of physiotherapy treatments report only modest analgesic effects and improvements in function; however, there may be individuals who respond well to certain treatments.
  • The checklist outlined in this article offers a practical clinical approach for managing neck pain in primary care; however, there is only limited evidence to support most of the treatments mentioned.

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© PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/SPL
© PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/SPL