Neck Pain Common Reason for Doctor VisitsNeck pain is almost as common as back pain in the United States. According to the results of this study, 10.2 million people saw their doctors for neck pain last year. A total of 28 million adults over the age of 18 reported having neck pain lasting at least one day or more. This group may or may not have seen their doctors or received treatment for their neck pain.
In this study, data collected each year by several large, national groups was analyzed. The purpose was to describe the volume and characteristics of visits to doctors, hospitals, and clinics for neck pain. Visits to chiropractors were not included, but would have doubled or even tripled the number of patients treated for neck pain in the U.S.
White females were the most likely patients to seek help for neck pain. Family practice physicians were seen most often. Most of the time, a description of the symptoms was given as the diagnosis.
For example, neck pain, neck sprain, or neck strain was the diagnosis given in two-thirds of the patient visits. Neck pain patients admitted to the hospital were far more likely to get a true (pathology-based) diagnosis. This information was obtained from hospital discharge notes.
The authors point out there is clearly a need for better ways to classify neck pain. The number of people reporting neck pain and seeking health care for neck pain suggests more research in this area is needed.
Direct costs associated with neck pain can be calculated based on physician, hospital, or clinic charges. Indirect costs such as lost time at work and reduced productivity are more difficult to estimate.
Daniel L. Riddle, PT, PhD, FAPTA, and Susan M. Schappert, MA. Volume and Characteristics of Inpatient and Ambulatory Medical Care for Neck Pain in the United States. In Spine. January 1, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 1. Pp. 132-140.
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