Objective: To investigate the clinical course and prognostic factors of complaints of arm, neck, and shoulder.
Study design and setting: A prospective cohort study in physical therapy practice. Participating physiotherapists recruited new consulters with musculoskeletal complaints of the neck and/or upper extremities. Participants filled in questionnaires at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. The main outcome measure was the persistence of complaints over 6-month follow-up. Possible predictors like social and psychological factors, physical factors, and complaint specific factors were tested in univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses for repeated measurements.
Results: Of the 624 participants at baseline 543 (87%) returned at least one follow-up questionnaire. At 6-month follow-up, 40% had persisting pain and discomfort. Somatization, kinesiophobia, catastrophizing, and a long duration of complaints at baseline were significantly related to the persistence of complaints over 6 months in the total population. In those with paid work (77%), catastrophizing, low decision authority at work, and a long duration of complaints at baseline were significantly related to the persistence of complaints over 6 months.
Conclusion: 40% of the participants had persisting pain and discomfort after 6 months and mainly social and psychological factors played a role in this course.