Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is increasingly common. Obesity has been suggested to associate with neck pain but prevalence of neck pain in subjects with MetS has not been studied. Aim of this study was to analyse the association between MetS and neck pain.
Methods: The study population consisted of 1294 middle-aged subjects in Pieksämäki, Finland. A total of 399 males and 500 females participated (69%). The mean age of both males and females was 46 years. Clinical and biochemical measurements were taken. The participants filled out a standard questionnaire. Psychological distress was assessed with the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Neck pain was defined as neck pain perceived daily. MetS was defined using National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria. Statistical comparisons between the groups were performed using a bootstrap-type t-test or Chi-Square test. Risk ratios of having neck pain were calculated using generalised linear models with age, smoking, alcohol use, exercise and GHQ-12 score as covariates.
Results: The prevalence of MetS was 33% in males and 29% in females. Neck pain was present in 11% (N = 42) of males and 19% (N = 93) of females (P < 0.001). The prevalence of neck pain was 7.9% (95% CI, 4.9% to 12%) among male subjects without MetS and 16% (95% CI, 10% to 23%) among those with MetS. The respective proportions among females were 16% (95% CI, 12% to 20%) and 25% (95% CI, 18% to 33%). The multivariate analysis showed an increased risk of neck pain in males with MetS (RR 2.1, 95% CI, 1.2 to 3.7, P = 0.010) and in females with MetS (RR 1.5, 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.1, P = 0.040).
Conclusions: MetS was associated with neck pain. This association was stronger in males, but the prevalence of neck pain was higher in females. Prospective studies should explore the potential causal association between neck pain and MetS and the potential common background factors of neck pain and MetS.