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Lister Hospital E & N Herts NHS Trust Hertfordshire, UK
Nonspecific (simple) neck pain is the commonest cause of neck symptoms and results from postural and mechanical causes. It includes pain following whiplash injury provided there is no bony injury or objective neurological deficit. The anatomy of the cervical spine is described, with the degenerative changes that are seen in patients with nonspecific neck pain, but also occur with ageing. The poor correlation between the degree of degeneration and presence and severity of symptoms is noted. A lack of specific pathology is also a feature of whiplash. The epidemiology, clinical presentation, investigation, and complications of nonspecific neck pain are described with a discussion of the controversial aspects of natural history, prognosis and therapy. Chronic whiplash is very common in some countries, but nonexistent in other countries and the factors which might explain this difference are considered. There is a great need for better quality studies to explore pathogenesis, natural history and factors including therapy that influence outcome.