Patterns of pain and consulting behaviour in patients with musculoskeletal disorders in rural Crete, Greece

Fam Pract. 2007 Jun;24(3):209-16. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmm012. Epub 2007 May 15.


Background: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account as a reason for frequent consultations in primary care. However, the magnitude of the problem at the GP's clinic, the patterns of pain and the consulting behaviour has not been sufficiently explored.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to report on patterns of pain relevant to MSDs and explore the co-morbidities and consulting behaviour in rural primary care settings in Crete.

Methods: Three primary care centres (PCCs) of Crete were selected for a study period of 2 weeks. Every visitor, aged 20-75 years, regardless of the reason for visiting the facility was invited to participate. The Greek version of the general Nordic questionnaire for the analysis of musculoskeletal disorders (NMQ) was used for data collection.

Results: A total of 455 subjects answered the NMQ. Three hundred and seventy-six (82.6%) of the study population reported having one or more symptoms during the previous year. Low back (56.9%), neck (34.1%), shoulder (29.9%) and knee (27.9%) were the commonest sites of pain. In almost half cases (48.6%), the complaints about pain were accompanied by activity restrictions. Multivariate statistical analysis showed significant correlations with increasing age and female gender (P < 0.05). Common chronic conditions were associated with co-morbidities from the musculoskeletal system. Only one-third of those who reported MSDs had consulted their GPs for the same problems within the previous year.

Conclusions: MSDs are highly prevalent among rural population in Crete but fewer patients seek care than those who report symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires