Predictors of neck pain: a cohort study of children followed up from the age of 11 to 22 years

Eur Spine J. 2005 Dec;14(10):1033-6. doi: 10.1007/s00586-005-0978-3. Epub 2005 Aug 25.


Body height is an alleged risk factor for low back pain in adulthood, but its importance regarding non-specific neck pain is obscure during childhood and adolescence. We studied anthropometric measurements for their associations with the incidence of neck pain in a population study of 430 children who were examined five times: at the age 11-14 and 22 years. Body height and weight and the degrees of trunk asymmetry, thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis were measured at every examination. The history of neck pain was obtained by a structured questionnaire at the final examination. The incidence of neck pain was defined as pain occurring in eight or more days during the past year. Short stature at 11 years of age predicted the incidence of neck pain. Adjusted for sex, the odds ratio (with 95% confidence interval) per an increment of one standard deviation of body height was 0.78 (0.62-0.97). At 22 years of age there was accordingly an inverse association between current body height and neck pain history, the odds ratio being 0.62 (0.45-0.86). Male sex was found to protect against neck pain; the odds ratio was 0.28 (0.18-0.44). Anthropometric measurements other than body height were not found to predict neck pain. The role of anthropometric factors in the development of neck pain at young adulthood seems only modest. Short stature may be a risk determinant of neck pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Pain*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires