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4 Risk Factors for Neck Pain

A study looking at data through 2015 found that 15% of the US population suffered from neck pain. A group of Texas A&M researchers recently performed a study to better understand an individual’s risk factors for neck pain. Some factors seem obvious, some may be surprising.

risk factors for neck pain

Work Related Risk Factors

As might be expected, work related factors such as workplace ergonomics play an important role in an individual’s risk for neck pain. It makes sense that individuals who work at a desk in front of a computer all day may be more prone to neck pain than those with a more active job.

Technology is becoming an larger part of our lives. Many of us have developed a habit of looking down at our phones or laptop screens for long periods of time. This ‘forward head posture’ is causing many people neck pain and related symptoms. (Learn more about what’s sometimes called, ‘tech neck‘.) Being more aware of our posture and workplace ergonomics may help us avoid this condition. There are steps you can take to setup your workspace in a way that reduces your chances for poor posture. See OSHA’s computer workstation ergonomic recommendations here.

Body Mass Index

The researcher’s study used measurements of neck endurance to identify risk factors for neck pain. One of their observations, which may not be as obvious, is that body mass index (BMI) may play a significant role in determining whether an individual experiences neck pain.


Age was also found to correlate to risk of neck pain. As our bodies age, parts of our body can change or deteriorate. In the case of the spine, the cushion like discs between the bones of the spine can become brittle. As a result, they may not perform as intended and can result in bones rubbing together or pressure on nerves.

In addition, conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and degenerative disc disease tend to worsen with time and can make neck pain more likely.

Learn ways to prevent or reduce the effects osteoporosis.

Time of Day as a Risk Factor for Neck Pain!

Another interesting finding is that the time of day played a role in an individual’s risk for neck pain. They found that individual’s neck became tired as the day went on. This makes sense if you consider one of the functions of the spine is to support the body’s weight. The neck bears the weight of our head throughout the day.


Understanding the risk factors for neck pain may help you avoid conditions that are more likely to cause this condition. For instance, knowing that time of day plays a role in neck pain, you may decide to plan your day so neck straining activity is done earlier in the day. If nothing else, your most important takeaway should relate to workplace ergonomics.  Take a good look at your work station and work habits. Are they contributing to your neck pain? If so, how can you modify your work station to make it more ergonomic?

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*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery