The association between psychosocial factors and mental health symptoms in cervical spine pain with or without radiculopathy on health outcomes: a systematic review

Michael Mansfield, Mick Thacker, Joseph L. Taylor, Kirsty Bannister, Nicholas Spahr, Stephanie T. Jong, Toby Smith

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Abstract

Background: Neck pain, with or without radiculopathy, can have significant negative effects on physical and mental wellbeing. Mental health symptoms are known to worsen prognosis across a range of musculoskeletal conditions. Understanding the association between mental health symptoms and health outcomes in this population has not been established. Our aim was to systematically review the association between psychosocial factors and/or mental health symptoms on health outcomes in adults with neck pain, with or without radiculopathy.

Methods: A systematic review of published and unpublished literature databases was completed. Studies reporting mental health symptoms and health outcomes in adults with neck pain with or without radiculopathy were included. Due to significant clinical heterogeneity, a narrative synthesis was completed. Each outcome was assessed using GRADE.

Results: Twenty-three studies were included (N = 21,968 participants). Sixteen studies assessed neck pain only (N = 17,604 participants); seven studies assessed neck pain with radiculopathy (N = 4,364 participants). Depressive symptoms were associated with poorer health outcomes in people with neck pain and neck pain with radiculopathy. These findings were from seven low-quality studies, and an additional six studies reported no association. Low-quality evidence reported that distress and anxiety symptoms were associated with poorer health outcomes in people with neck pain and radiculopathy and very low-quality evidence showed this in people with neck pain only. Stress and higher job strain were negatively associated with poorer health outcomes measured by the presence of pain in two studies of very low quality.

Conclusions: Across a small number of highly heterogenous, low quality studies mental health symptoms are negatively associated with health outcomes in people with neck pain with radiculopathy and neck pain without radiculopathy. Clinicians should continue to utilise robust clinical reasoning when assessing the complex factors impacting a person’s presentation with neck pain with or without radiculopathy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number235
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Volume24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Cervical spine pain
  • Neck pain
  • Cervical spine radiculopathy
  • Mental Health
  • Psychosocial
  • Health outcome
  • Adult
  • Health outcomes
  • Mental health

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