Objective: This study describes the course of shoulder and neck complaints in a working population over time.
Study design and setting: Questionnaires were administered on neck and shoulder complaints over 3 consecutive years.
Results: We observed 12-month incidence rates for neck and shoulder complaints of 16% to 18%, 12-month prevalence rates roughly twice as high, and 12-month recurrence rates approximately twice the prevalence rates. Each year, medical care was sought by 21% to 38% of the subjects with neck or shoulder pain, and 13% to 21% were absent from work. Although at the population level the occurrence of neck and shoulder complaints remained constant, the course of complaints within individuals demonstrated a strong episodic nature of neck and shoulder pain. Results from this study suggest that neck and shoulder complaints for most subjects run a recurrent course characterized by a strong variation in occurrence and a self-limiting course.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that clinical trials should have a sufficiently long follow-up period to demonstrate sustainability of the therapeutic results.