Bone and Joint Institute

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders





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© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Neck pain (NP) is a very common musculoskeletal condition with potential for a high burden in disability and length of disorder. Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) give recommendations to clinicians for providing optimal care for patients however best practice recommendations are often contradictory. The purpose for this review was to conduct a SR of CPGs to assess the management recommendations for NP (diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, imaging). Methods: Standard SR methodology was employed including a grey literature search (including the National Guideline Clearing House). Medline, Cinahl, Embase, ILC, Cochrane, Central, and Lilacs were searched from 1995-to March 2018. Two raters evaluated all citations and a third rater resolved any disagreements. The AGREE II was used to assess risk of bias of each CPG. Data was extracted and included CPG purpose, type of NP problem and clinical recommendations. The AGREE II critical appraisal tool was used to assess risk of bias of each CPG. Results: From 640 articles, 241 were available for screening. A total of 46 guidelines were selected. CPG's were categorized by the NP population (General NP, whiplash, interventional, headache and risk for vertebral insufficiency) and type of clinical aim (diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, imaging). Each clinical NP population had a large overlap of clinical aims presented. The CPGs were directed to a variety of clinicians that included physicians, physiotherapists and chiropractors. Results suggest heterogeneity in CPG recommendations within each clinical aim. CPG characteristics accounting for these differences are outlined. Conclusion: The majority of CPGs were developed for general NP that focused on treatment recommendations, with fewer number aimed at recommendations for diagnosis, prognosis, and outcomes. Heterogeneity of recommendations within the categories were noted as were potential factors associated with these differences, including CPG quality as assessed by the AGREE II.


This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

The article was originally published as:

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).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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