Psychosocial and lifestyle correlates of musculoskeletal pain patterns in adolescence: a 2-year follow-up study

Eur J Pain. 2014 Jan;18(1):139-46. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2013.00353.x. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


Background: The prevalence of musculoskeletal (MS) pain has been increasing among adolescents in the last decades. This may be related to either adverse changes in lifestyle and/or the psychosocial environment. Our study analysed the psychosocial and lifestyle correlates of musculoskeletal pain progression in adolescence.

Methods: The study was based on the 1986 Northern Finland Birth Cohort and included 1773 adolescents at the ages of 16 to 18. Latent class analysis was applied to find the homogeneous profiles of MS pains in four body areas (neck, shoulder, low back and limb). We analysed the associations between time spent in sedentary activities and sleeping, physical activity level, body mass index, alcohol consumption, smoking, and emotional and behavioural factors at 16 years, and belonging to pain clusters at 16 and 18 years.

Results: We found an association between a higher probability of MS pains between 16 and 18 years and increasing emotional and behavioural problems in both genders. Among boys, a high likelihood of MS pains during follow-up was also associated with a long time spent sitting and insufficient sleeping time. Among girls, alcohol consumption associated with high pain probability. MS pains already co-occur to a large extent in their early course.

Conclusions: The strong overlap of emotional and behavioural problems and MS pains in adolescence requires awareness in both research and clinical work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Social Environment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires