Welcome to the second month of the Head to Sacrum series at Spine IQ’s Back Blog!

Since the inception of the Spine IQ BackBlog series, clinicians have been talking to us about the need to better understand how to best utilize the research in their busy practice. We hear you! Our mission at Spine IQ is to explain how complex research studies impact everyday practice in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

This month’s focus is on acute neck pain. A 2015 Mayo Clinic Report reminds us that while the majority of acute neck pain cases will self-resolve, nearly half of individuals will continue to experience some degree of pain (1). Similar to headaches, a thorough history and physical examination should be completed by the clinician for patients experiencing acute neck pain to determine if the cause is mechanical, and to identify the presence of any “red flags.”

Acute neck pain is likely to present due to a variety of causes. Those that are most concerning and may require a referral include trauma sustained from a whiplash injury, motor vehicle accident or sports injury. Evaluation is important to rule out these conditions before continuing with care.

Evidence supports the treatment of acute neck pain that is structural in origin by doctors of chiropractic, either autonomously or as part of a multi-disciplinary team. The overwhelming majority of current clinical practice guidelines recommend the use of multimodal care as a primary management strategy, which includes a combination of exercise, manual therapies and modalities, in addition to proper patient education. Research shows that both educating patients on the likely benign nature of acute neck pain as well as actively involving them in their treatment plan is crucial. (2)

Help us meet our goal of providing you with relevant and current research, we are always grateful for feedback!


1.  Cohen SP. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Feb;90(2):284-99. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.09.008. PMID: 25659245.

2.  Parikh, P., Santaguida, P., Macdermid, J. et al. Comparison of CPG’s for the diagnosis, prognosis and management of non-specific neck pain: a systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 20, 81 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-2441-3

3. Clarke, T., Nahin, R., Barnes, P., Stussman, B. Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Musculoskeletal Pain Disorders Among Adults in the United States, 2012. National Health Statistics Reports 98 (2016). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr098.pdf