How Many People in the US Have Neck Pain?

Neck pain is an extremely common condition that affects millions of Americans. Understanding the scope of neck pain prevalence can help provide insight into the impact and burden it places on the healthcare system. This article examines studies and statistics on the number of US adults suffering from neck pain.

Overall Prevalence

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 15% of American adults experienced neck pain in the past 3 months. This equates to roughly 35 million adults dealing with neck symptoms during a 3 month period. The prevalence increases with age, with 25% of seniors over age 65 reporting neck pain.

Neck pain tends to fluctuate over one’s lifespan. While it can occur at any age, studies show it peaks between ages 40-59. The prevalence drops off after age 60 but remains common in seniors. Women have a higher rate than men, with around 20% of women reporting neck pain compared to 10% of men.

Besides age and gender, neck pain risk also rises with lower income, excess weight, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. People whose jobs involve desk work, heavy lifting, or manually working with the neck bent are also at higher risk. Traumatic injuries and chronic conditions like arthritis can contribute as well.

Impact on Daily Life

For around one third of sufferers, neck pain is a chronic or recurring condition. It may come and go for years and have a notable impact on their regular function and quality of life. Tasks involving neck mobility can become more difficult, such as looking overhead, shoulder checking while driving, carrying objects, and exercising. Severe neck pain may interfere with work duties, recreational activities, and sleep quality.

Around 10% of adults with neck pain report it restricts their daily activities. Neck symptoms are cited as the cause of work absences in 15% of sufferers. The rate goes up to 35% for those with chronic, long-lasting neck problems. This highlights the role neck pain has in lost workplace productivity and disability claims.

Treatment Utilization

With so many Americans dealing with neck symptoms, treatment rates are also high. About 13% of adults visited their health provider for neck pain in the prior year, translating to 30 million visits annually. Most first seek help from primary care physicians or physical therapists. Specialists like chiropractors, orthopedists, and neurologists are also involved in more persistent cases.

Utilization of diagnostic imaging is common as well, with 33% of neck pain patients getting x-rays and over 10% receiving MRI scans. About 20-30% end up receiving some type of invasive treatment like cortisone injections, nerve blocks, or surgery. The high treatment rates reflect the disruptiveness of neck pain and the desire for diagnosis and relief.

Neck pain remains a widespread issue plaguing over a third of American adults each year. It commonly causes healthcare visits and disruptions to daily living and work. Though treatments are available, there is no definitive cure for most cases of neck pain. Keeping the neck strong and nimble through exercise and posture may help reduce the risk. But neck pain will likely persist as a top health problem facing the US population.