Do physical activity level and body mass index predict recovery from persistent neck pain in men and women of working age? A population-based cohort study

Eur Spine J. 2013 Sep;22(9):2077-83. doi: 10.1007/s00586-013-2801-x. Epub 2013 May 8.


Purpose: The study sought to examine the gender-specific effects of physical activity level and body mass index on recovery from persistent neck pain (PNP) among citizens of working age in Stockholm, Sweden.

Methods: A population-based cohort of 1,730 subjects (18-65) with PNP answered surveys in 2002 and 2007. Prognostic factors were self-reported body mass index (BMI) and physical activity level (PAL) at baseline. Analyses were performed with odds ratios (OR) with corresponding 95 % confidence intervals (95 % CI).

Results: Women reporting higher physical activity level had higher odds of recovering from PNP than women with sedentary leisure time (OR of 1.5, 95 % CI 1.0-2.4), but no associations were found in men. No associations were found between BMI and recovery from PNP in any analyses.

Conclusion: Physical activity seems to be associated with recovery from PNP in women and should therefore be encouraged. Future studies should continue investigating physical activity and lifestyle factors in relation to recovery from persistent neck pain, since these modifiable factors may be considered in interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology*
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult