What is the prevalence of chronic musculoskeletal pain in the community?

Authors: Parsons, S., Underwood, M., Breen, A.C., Foster, N.E.L., Pincus, T. and Vogel, S.

Journal: Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - British Volume

Volume: 87-B

Pages: 207

ISSN: 0301-620X


Background: Chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) is a major health problem for the individual and the NHS. It is important to examine the prevalence of and factors associated with it, to identify unmet need and inform the development of interventions.

Purpose: To describe the prevalence of CMP in a community based sample, overall and by location; To describe the factors associated with presence of CMP.

Methods: Population questionnaire survey to 4100 patients registered with 17 Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework practices. We collected questionnaire data on demographics, presence and location of pain, pain severity, health related quality of life, care seeking and beliefs about pain. We then did univariate and multivariate analyses to identify factors associated with CMP.

Results: Survey response rate was 61% (2509/4100); mean age 52 years (range 18–101); 56% female. CMP prevalence was 47%. One month period prevalence by area was; Lower back 23%; Knee 19%%; Shoulder 16%; Hip/thigh 14% and Upper back 6%. The majority of sufferers consulted their GP (61%), but a large minority (21%) consulted no-one. Factors associated with presence of CMP were being older, leaving school aged 16 or less, not working, having poorer quality of life and experiencing psychological distress (P<0.05). In a multivariate analysis no factors were independently associated with presence of CMP.

Conclusion: Results demonstrate the significant burden CMP presents in the community and the need to focus interventions on those individuals who may be more likely to suffer. It may be particularly important to consider the needs of those who have not consulted anyone.


Source: Manual