Background: The course of pain at a specific region such as the lower back has previously been shown as well as for generalized pain. However we have not found any report on the course of pain from various different specific regions. The aim of this investigation was to study the one-year transition of reported pain in different body locations.
Methods: From a general population 14,555 men and women, 46-68 years, responded to an extensive health questionnaire including the standardized Nordic questionnaire. The population represented 27% of the total population within the age group in Malmö, Sweden. At the one year follow-up 12,607 responded to the questionnaire, yielding a response rate of 87%. The one year prevalence of long-lasting pain and the pattern of pain reporting from different regions were studied for men and women.
Results: The one-year prevalence of long-lasting neck pain was 14% (95% CI 13-15) among men and 25% (95% CI 24-26) among women at baseline and 15% (95% CI 14-16) for the men and 23% (95% CI 22-24) for the women at follow-up. Of those reporting neck pain "all the time" at baseline, 48% of the men and 54% of the women also reported neck pain "all the time" at the one-year follow-up. At the follow-up neck pain was reported as present "often" by 43% of the men and 47% of the women who reported neck pain "often" at baseline. Similar transition pattern were found for neck, shoulders, elbow/wrist/hand and lower back symptoms, as well as consistent prevalence rates.
Conclusion: The one-year transition pattern of reported pain was similar in different body regions and among men and women. Furthermore the prevalence rates of long-lasting pain in the population were consistent at baseline and the follow-up. The findings of similar transition patterns support the interpretation of long-lasting pain as a generalized phenomenon rather than attributed to specific exposure. This may have implications for future pain research.