Characteristics of a new episode of neck pain

Andrew M. Leaver*, Christopher G. Maher, James H. McAuley, Gwendolen A. Jull, Kathryn M. Refshauge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the demographic and clinical characteristics of patients seeking manual therapy care for a new episode of non-specific neck pain and report on characteristics associated with higher levels of pain and disability in these patients. Demographic and clinical data were collected from patients who enrolled in a clinical trial of manipulation for neck pain. A profile of these patients was formulated using descriptive statistics. Multivariate linear regression models were used to describe the relationship between patient characteristics and severity of pain and disability. Patients with a new episode of non-specific neck pain reported pain intensity of 6.1 ± 2.0 (mean ± SD) on a 0-10 numerical scale and disability scores of 15.7 ± 7.4 (Neck Disability Index/50). Sixty-three percent had a prior history of neck pain. Concomitant symptoms were highly prevalent including upper limb pain (80%), headache (65%), upper back pain (64%), lower back pain (39%), dizziness (31%) and nausea (23%). There was a strong association between pain intensity and disability (p < 0.01). More severe pain was also associated with not having concomitant back pain (p = 0.01) More severe disability was also associated with poor general health (p < 0.01), nausea (p < 0.01), smoking, (p = 0.02) low SF-12 mental health score (p = 0.02), and shorter duration of symptoms (p = 0.03). Patients with a new episode of neck pain, and deemed suitable for treatment with neck manipulation reported moderately high intensity pain and disability with widespread and frequent concomitant symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-257
Number of pages4
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Associated factors
  • Clinical characteristics
  • Manual therapy
  • Neck pain


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