Musculoskeletal pain combinations in adolescents

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 May 15;34(11):1192-7. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181a401df.


Study design: A 2-year follow-up in a birth cohort of adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.

Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of neck, shoulder, low back, peripheral (limb) pain, and combinations of pain at these anatomic locations.

Summary of background data: Few previous studies have evaluated combinations of musculoskeletal pain among adolescents.

Methods: Prevalence of neck, shoulder, low back, and peripheral pain (elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle-foot pain) during the previous 6 months were obtained by questionnaire in a follow-up study of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 at 16 and 18 years of age (n = 1773). Latent class analysis was used in clustering of pain combinations at both time points.

Results: No pain at all in the past 6 months at 16 and 18 years was reported by 17% and 8% of girls, and 33% and 24% of boys, respectively. Only 1 pain location (neck, shoulder, low back, or peripheral pain) was reported by 21% of girls and 25% of boys at 16, and 11% of girls and 20% of boys at 18 years, while all 4 pain locations were reported by 15% of girls and 9% of boys at 16, and 27% and 15%, respectively, at 18 years. Latent class analysis resulted in 2 to 3 pain clusters in both genders at both time points. Probability of pain increased during the 2-year follow-up, with subjects more likely to belong to a cluster with a higher likelihood of pain.

Conclusion: As very few adolescents did not report any pain, the relevance of self-reported pain is questionable without assessment of pain-related disability. The clinical relevance of these pain combinations must be evaluated in further studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal System / pathology
  • Musculoskeletal System / physiopathology*
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Shoulder Pain / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors