Prevalence of symptoms and signs of joint impairment at age 79

Scand J Rehabil Med. 1985;17(4):173-82.


The prevalence of back and joint impairments was studied in a representative subsample of 77 women and 57 men aged 79. Forty-six per cent of the subjects had no history of back or joint complaints. Thirty-two per cent reported current back pains while 50% stated they never experienced such pains. Back pains (past or present) were localized in the lumbar region predominantly (40%), and were almost constantly present in 8% of the subjects. The spinal mobility remained acceptable for function of the activities of daily living (ADL) in the majority of the subjects. Thirty-six per cent of the subjects had past or present complaints from the joints of the extremities, predominantly of the knee, shoulder or hip joints. Physical signs of joint disorders as deformities, swelling or tenderness were rare except for enlargement of distal interphalangeal joints (right hand: females 38%, males 14%). Restricted range of motion (ROM) in one or several joints was found in one fifth (i.e., knee joints) to two thirds (i.e., hip joints). No significant gender differences were observed with the exception of the thoracolumbar ROM that was more frequently restricted in males. Severe restriction of separate movements (to less than 50% of ROM) was, generally, infrequent (0-8% of the subjects) although advanced impairment of hip inward rotation was found in 14% of the subjects. Restricted ROM associated with joint complaints was found in 2-11% of the subjects (i.e., knee joints 2%, shoulder joints 9%, hip joints 11%). A considerable proportion of 79-year-olds, thus, had some--though usually limited--restriction of joint ROM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Movement Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sweden