Patterns of pain and mobility limitation in older people: cross-sectional findings from a population survey of 18,497 adults aged 50 years and over

Qual Life Res. 2008 May;17(4):529-39. doi: 10.1007/s11136-008-9324-7.


Mobility limitation is the most common disability in the general population, and pain is a frequent symptom at older ages. We have investigated the association of different patterns of pain and mobility limitation in a large sample of older adults. A cross-sectional postal survey of all adults aged 50 years and over registered with eight general practices in North Staffordshire, UK, resulted in 18,497 respondents (adjusted response=70.8%). Information on demographics, recent pain and the self-reported level of mobility limitation was collected. Associations between pain and mobility limitation were assessed using a partial proportional odds model, taking into account age, gender and socio-economic status. Limitation in walking 100 yards was reported by 29% of respondents. Limitation increased sharply with age, and was higher in the female and lower socio-economic groups. Persons reporting pain were significantly more likely to report limitation. The relationship between mobility limitation and pain was stronger in the youngest age group, but proportionally more people in the oldest age groups have mobility limitation associated with pain. Lower limb and multiple pains present a potential target for the prevention of mobility limitation up to the oldest age groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology