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Neck Pain Care Pathway

Date of last update: February, 2024

Outcome Measures

Clinical Cornerstone:

  • By incorporating a meaningful set of outcome measures before treatment begins and reviewing them at regular intervals, clinicians can ensure that care remains patient-centered and evidence-driven. The plan of management can be adapted as needed to achieve the best possible results. Selected outcome measures should be congruent with the patient’s goals and expectations of treatment.

Common outcome measures for patients with neck pain include:

  • Pain: Pain scales (e.g., NRS), pain diagram.

  • Goal Attainment: Help the patient to set SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.

  • Return to Work/School/Activities: PSFS (Patient specific functional scale).

  • Function and participation: e.g., MYMOP, WHODAS 2.0 (12item) (WHO Disability Assessment Schedule).

  • Recovery: Self-rated recovery scales (e.g., Self-Rated Recovery Question: How well do you feel you are recovering from your condition?).

  • Self-perceived General Health: Excellent, very good, good, poor.

  • Mental Health: Patient Health Questionnaire for Depression (PHQ-9) or Generalized Anxiety Scale (GAD-7).

  • Psychosocial Assessment: Assess any psychosocial factors that may impact recovery e.g., FABQ (Fear Avoidance Behaviour Questionnaire), ORT (Opioid Risk Tool).

  • Quality of Life: e.g., SF-12 (Short-Form - 12).

  • Patient Feedback: Patient experience and satisfaction with care.

Conduct patient assessment

Red flags present

Red flags present

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Refer to appropriate emergency or healthcare provider

  • Structured patient education

  • Exercise (strength, range of motion)

  • Manual therapies (e.g., spinal manipulation or mobilization, massage)

  • Low-level laser therapy

  • Psychological / social support

  • Medicines

  • Referral

Major symptom/sign change

Goals not achieved


Adjust treatment and management plan or refer

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These care pathways are intended to provide information to practitioners who provide care to people with musculoskeletal conditions. The care pathways on this website are 'living' documents, reflecting the state of clinical practice and research evidence to our best knowledge at the time of development. As knowledge and healthcare practices evolve, these pathways may be updated to ensure they remain current and evidence driven. These pathways are not intended to replace advice from a qualified healthcare provider.

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