Musculoskeletal pain in obese children and adolescents

Acta Paediatr. 2008 Apr;97(4):489-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.00724.x.


Aim: To determine whether bodyweight is associated with musculoskeletal pain within a population of obese children and adolescents.

Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional study of subjects evaluated at a tertiary care medical centre for the management of obesity. Analyses were conducted using both a person-specific model, and then again, using a joint site model in order to account for correlations between joints within children.

Results: We evaluated 135 children and adolescents (68 girls, 67 boys) with a mean age of 12.3 years (range: 3-18). The study population was racially and ethnically diverse--Hispanic (51%), non-Hispanic white (26%), non-Hispanic black (13%), other (10%). The majority of subjects (61%) complained of at least one joint hurting more than once per month. Back pain was the most common complaint (39%), followed by foot (26%) and knee (24%) pain. After adjustment for age, pain in the knees and hips were associated with increased weight and/or body mass index (BMI).

Conclusions: In this cross-sectional analysis of obese children and adolescents, musculoskeletal pain was common and, in the knee and hip joints, was positively associated with extra bodyweight. Clinicians may want to ask about musculoskeletal pain when recommending physical activity for weight management counselling.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hip Joint
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors