• Open Access

Spreading of chronic pain between body regions: Prospective cohort study among health care workers

Authors


  • Funding sources

    The study was supported by a grant from the Danish Parliament (SATS 2004).

  • Conflicts of interest

    The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Terms and Conditions set out at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/onlineopen#OnlineOpen_Terms

Correspondence

Lars L. Andersen

E-mail: lla@nrcwe.dk

Abstract

Objective

To estimate the prognostic value of pain in one body region on the risk for developing chronic pain in other body regions.

Methods

Prospective cohort study among 5052 Danish female health care workers responding to a baseline and follow-up questionnaire in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Using adjusted logistic regression analysis, the risk for developing chronic pain (>30 days last year) at follow-up in the low back (among those without low back pain during the last year at baseline) when experiencing sub-chronic (1–30 days last year) or chronic pain in other body regions (i.e., the neck/shoulders and/or the knees at baseline) was modelled. Similar risks were modelled for developing chronic pain in the neck/shoulders and knees.

Results

Chronic pain in the neck/shoulders (OR 3.14; 95% CI 1.74–5.70) or knees (OR 2.57; 95% CI 1.28–5.16) at baseline increased the risk for developing chronic pain in the low back at follow-up. Likewise, chronic pain in the neck/shoulders (OR 2.39; 95% CI 1.36–4.17) or low back (OR 1.82 95%; CI 1.07–3.09) at baseline increased the risk for developing chronic pain in the knees at follow-up. The risk for developing chronic neck/shoulder pain was not significantly increased when having pain in the low back or knees at baseline.

Conclusion

Among health care workers, chronic musculoskeletal pain in one body region increases the risk for developing chronic pain in other pain-free body regions. Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders among health care workers should focus holistically on the musculoskeletal system.

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