Mental health disorders are positively associated with subsequent self-reported chronic back and/or neck pain, according to a study published in The Journal of Pain. Furthermore, earlier-onset mental disorders carry a higher risk for subsequent pain than later-onset disorders.
The study explored the associations between mental disorders (including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, substance abuse disorders, and impulse control disorders assessed using the DSM-IV) and subsequent self-reported chronic back/neck pain onset (using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview) and the variation in the strength of associations by the timing of events over the course of life, as well as by gender. The analyses yielded a positive association between all mental disorders and back/neck pain, which remained after adjusting for psychiatric comorbidity in most disorders (12/16). Only bipoloar disorder, agoraphobia without panic, and alcohol and drug dependence were not associated with subsequent pain (4/16).
The researchers recommend that these findings be taken into account to improve early identification and management of mental health disorders and pain symptoms to reduce comorbidity and disability.
Reference: Viana, M.C., Lim, C.C.W, Pereira, F.G, et al. (2007) Prior mental disorders and subsequent onset of chronic back or neck pain: findings from 19 countries. J Pain