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Table 7 Description of back pain (BP) and neck pain (NP)

From: What is the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems in the elderly population in developed countries? A systematic critical literature review

  First author Publ. year Country Study design / Population / Method of collection Sample size Crude response rate (%) Outcome definition Outcome assessment method Prevalence period Age Prevalence* (95% CI) Risk of bias
    Total M F       M F Total  
LBP Andrianakos [41] 2006 Greece 1966-99, (19+ yo), the total population in 7 mixed communities + random sample in another 2 mixed communities. Interview, questionnaire + examination (home visit, rheumatologist) 8740 4269 4471 82 LBP localized in the back area between the lower limits of the chest and the gluteal folds, either radiating or not along a lower extremity. Past LBP included if recurrent and chronic causes Self report Life time 59-64    18 L
69+ 19
LBP Salaffi [79] 2005 Italy 2004, (18+ yo), stratified randomised sample selected from the practice lists of 16 general practitioner-GPs representative of the practices in the Marches, central Italy. Postal questionnaire 2155 ? ? 54 LBP defined as pain localized in the back area between the lower limits of the chest and the gluteal folds, either radiating or not along a lower extremity. Three satisfactory screening criteria: I) Report of ever having had LBP, II) A health care provider visit for LBP in the previous six months, and III) LBP that began more than 3 months previously Self report Life time 65-74    29 U
75+ 26
LBP Cecchi [60] 2006 Italy 1998-2000, (65+), a representative cohort was selected from the registries of Greve in Chianti (rural area) and Bagno a Ripoli (urban area near Florence). Interview, questionnaire + examination (home visit, rheumatologist). 1008 443 565 80 Any frequent BP episodes (defined as quite often-almost every day) over the past 12 months Self report One year 65-74 20.7 38.1   U
75-84 26.3 44.4
85+ 25.0 25.0
LBP Hartvigsen [69] 2006 Denmark 2003, (70–102 yo), twins from the populations-based twin study (LSADT). Interview + questionnaire (home) 1844 ? ? 84 Modified version of the standardised Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ) on Musculoskeletal Pain Self report One year 72-102 21 (19–23) 32 (29–35)   U
LBP Hicks [71] 2008 USA (62+ yo), community-dwellers from 4 retirement communities (The Retirement Community Back Pain Study). Postal questionnaire 522 170 352 52 “In the past year, have you had any low back pain? If yes, please rate your usual back pain over the past year on a scale from 0 to 10" Self report One year 60-69    26.7 U
70-79 30.5
80+ 24.8
LBP Picavet [78] 2003 The Netherlands 1998, (25+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population register (the DMC3-study). Postal questionnaire 3664 45% 55% 46 "Did you have pain [in the lower part of the back] during the past 12 months?" Self report One year 65-74    48 U
75+ 32
LBP Santos-Eggimann [80] 2000 Switzerland 1992-3, (25-74 yo), two-stage probabilistic stratified random sample of inhabitants from the population files of the Vaud-Fribourg & Ticino communes (the WHO MONICA study). Questionnaire (postal) + examination. 3227 ? ? 61 The Standardized Nordic Questionnaire: any ache, pain, or discomfort located in the lower back (indicated by the shaded area on a diagram), with or without radiation to one or both legs (sciatica) the preceding 12 months Self report One year (>7 days) 65-74 28.5 38.5   L
LBP Goubert [66] 2004 Belgium 2001, (17+ yo), a representative access panel of individuals who regularly participate in postal surveys. Postal questionnaire 1624 ? ? 65 Participants indicated whether they had experienced LBP pain in the past six months (The Graded Chronic Pain Scale) Self report Six months 65+    36.7 U
LBP Miro [75] 2007 Spain (65+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population census obtained from the Catalan Statistics Institute, Catalonia. Interview + questionnaire (local primary care centre). 592 274 318 99 The Chronic Pain Grade: “In the past 3 months have you had pain that has lasted for one day or longer in any part of your body?” Self report Three months 65-74    61.0 L
75-84 62.6
85+ 44.2
LBP Parsons [77] 2007 UK 2001-3, (18+ yo), random samples from 16 Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework practices, South East quadrant of the UK. Postal questionnaire 2501 1347 1154 47 The Chronic Pain Grade: Any ‘pain which has lasted for 3 months or longer and currently troubles respondents either all of the time or on and off' Self report Three months 65-74    7 U
75-101 6
LBP Strine [82] 2007 USA 2002, (18+ yo), Multistage cluster sample of random households from all 50 states and DC (the NHIS). Interview + questionnaire (home). 29828 ? ? 96 “During the past 3 months did you have LBP [lasting a whole day or more and not fleeting or minor]?” [NB. LBP only, NP not included] Self report Three months 65+    19.7 U
(18.4-20.9)
LBP Hartvigsen [69] 2005 Denmark 2003, (70–102 yo), twins from the populations-based twin study (LSADT). Interview + questionnaire (home). 1844 ? ? 84 Modified version of the standardised Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ) on Musculoskeletal Pain Self report One month 72-102 20 (17–23) 30 (27–33)   U
LBP Meyer [74] 2007 USA 1998-2000, (65+ yo), follow-up of a random sample of members from a random sample of 269 Medicare + Choice plans (the HOS) (NB. Only 2000 data reported here). Questionnaire (home) + interview (phone). 55690 ? ? 61 “In the past 4 wk, how often has low back pain interfered with your usual daily activities? (work, school or housework)” Self report One month 65+    49.4 L
LBP Stranjalis [81] 2004 Greece 2000, (15+ yo), a 2000 person sample, selected via a multi-stage sampling of rural, semi-urban and urban residents through "random numbers" of starting points followed by "statistical step of five" in 47 cities, towns or villages (until reaching a total of 2000 persons). Interview + questionnaire (home). 1846 ? ? 92 "Did you have low back pain during the last month?" Self report One month 65+    46.9 H
LBP Suka [83] 2009 Japan 2005, About 1000 persons from five different healthcare facilities were asked to participate. Questionnaire (Health care facility). 5652 ? ? ? Musculoskeletal pain for more than 1 week during the last month (marked on a drawing with predefined body regions) Self report One month 60-69 23.8 23.2   H
LBP Thomas [87] 2004 UK (50+ yo), all patients from three GPs from the North Staffordshire Primary Care Research Consortium (the NorStOP). Postal questionnaire 7878 ? ? 70 “In the past 4 weeks have you had pain that has lasted for one day or longer in any part of your body?” [supplemented by a full body manikin] Self report One month 60-69    35.1 U
70-79 29.9
80+ 27.3
LBP Webb [85] 2003 UK (16+ yo), stratified sample of patients from three GP in West Pennine, East of Manchester. Questionnaire. 4515 ? ? 78 Pain lasting for more than 1 week, over the last month, in any of seven areas (back, neck, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee) or in multiple joints Self report One month 65-74 20.6 32.1   U
75+ 17.4 30.9
LBP Yaron [86] 2011 Israel 2002, 2006, 2008, (20+ yo), stratified sample drawn from a telephone database on different population sectors. Telephone interview + questionnaire 2520 47% 53% 59-66 The Community Oriented Program for the Control of Rheumatic Diseases core questionnaire (CCQ): “In the past 7 days have you experienced pain in any of the following sites: [ankles]?” Self report One week 61+    67.2 U
LBP Baek [59] 2010 South Korea 2005-06, (65+ yo), residents of Seongnam City. Questionnaire + examination (hospital). 714 299 415 64 The Oswestry Disability Index on LBP: "pain at the moment" Self report Point 65-69    70.1 H
           70-74    70.3  
           75-79    81.3  
           80+    70.5  
LBP Carmona [11] 2001 Spain (20+ yo), a stratified multistage cluster sample from the censuses of 20 municipalities. Questionnaire (home) + interview (rheumatologist). 2192 1014 1178 73 LBP defined by self-report. The interviewers were instructed to indicate what was understood by low back and then to ask about pain in that area Self report Point 60-69    21.2 L
           70-79    12.3  
           80+    4.0  
LBP Freburger [64] 2009 USA 1992 + 2006, (21+ yo), two-staged stratified probability sample of North Carolina households with telephone numbers (NB only data from 2006 survey is included). Interview + questionnaire (phone). 2723 ? ? 83 LBP defined as pain at the level of the waist or below, with or without buttock and/or leg pain. Chronic LBP: 1) pain and activity limitations nearly every day for the past 3 months or 2) more than 24 episodes of pain that limited activity for 1 day or more in the past year Self report Point 65+    12.3 U
LBP Picavet [78] 2003 The Netherlands 1998, (25+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population register (the DMC3-study). Postal questionnaire 3664 45% 55% 46 [Lower part of the back] pain during the survey Self report Point 65+ 23.3 (19.8-26.8) 29.5 (25.8-33.2)   L
BP Denard [62] 2010 UK 2000-2, (65+ yo), a random sample of 300 community dwelling men recruited at 6 US academic medical centers (The MrOS cohort). Questionnaire (postal) + examination. 300 295 0 98 Any BP in the past 12 months Self report One year 65+ 65    U
BP Keenan [73] 2006 UK 1993, (55+ yo), a two-stage random sample from the North Yorkshire Family Health Services Authority. Postal questionnaire 16222 ? ? 86 Any swelling, pain, or stiffness in any of their joints that lasted >6 weeks in the previous 3 months (identified on a manikin) Self report Three months 65-74 13.5 (12.2-14.8) 18.2 (16.8-19.7) 16.1 (14.7-17.5) L
           75+ 11.4 (10.2-12.6) 19.0 (17.6-20.5) 16.4 (15.1-17.8)  
BP Hartvigsen [68] 2004 Denmark 1995,1997,1999, 2001, (70–102 yo), twins from the populations-based twin study (LSADT). Interview + questionnaire (home). 4484 ? ? 100 “Have you during the past month suffered from pain or stiffness in the neck or shoulders?” + diagnosis had been made by a physician Self report One month 70-74 14 18   U
75-79 12 17
80-84 10 15
85+ 11 16
BP Hartvigsen [70] 2008 Denmark 2005, (100 yo), all Danes born in 1905 were located through the Danish Civil Registration System. Interview + questionnaire (home). 256 ? ? 56 “During the past month, have you been suffering from back pain, acute back pain, or lumbago?” Self report One month 100 16.7 29.4 27.3 U
BP Docking [63] 2011 UK 1988-90, (75+ yo), original cohort from the 1985 Cambridge City over 75 s Cohort Study randomly chosen from a selection of geographically and socially representative general practices in Cambridge. Interview + questionnaire (home). 1174 35% 65% 45% Have you recently had an illness or condition which prevented you carrying out normal day to day routine? [accompanied by a list of conditions including back pain]. (=Any back pain) Self report Point 77-79    27.0 U
80-84 31.1
85-89 27.0
90-100 29.1
BP Jacobs [72] 2006 Jerusalem 1990 & 1998–9, (70 & 77 yo), recruited from the electoral register of the Israeli Ministry of Interior by their serial number’s last digit, West Jerusalem. Questionnaire (home) + examination (hospital). 277 ? ? 60 Subjects were asked if they have back pain. Further questions on the duration, frequency, site, and severity of their pain. Chronic BP was defined as reporting pain on a frequent basis Self report Point 70    44 U
77 58
NP Andrianakos [41] 2006 Greece 1966-99, (19+ yo), the total population in 7 mixed communities + random sample in another 2 mixed communities. Interview, questionnaire + examination (home visit, rheumatologist) 8740 4269 4471 82 NP localized in the neck either radiating or not along an upper extremity Self report Life time 59-64    9 L
69+ 8
NP Chiu [61] 2006 HongKong 2001, (15+ yo), residents selected through a two-stage randomization process. Interview + questionnaire (phone). 664 295 364 66 “Up to the present time, have you ever had neck pain?” + "at least once in the past 12 months" + "within the past 7 days" Self report One year 65+    9.3 U
NP Hartvigsen [69] 2006 Denmark 2003, (70–102 yo), twins from the populations-based twin study (LSADT). Interview + questionnaire (home). 1844 ? ? 84 Modified version of the standardised Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ) on Musculoskeletal Pain Self report One year 72-102 16 (13–19) 20 (18–22)   U
NP Vogt [84] 2003 USA 1997-8, (70-79yo), a random sample of age-eligible white Medicare beneficiaries from lists provided by the Health Care Financing Administra-tion and all age-eligible black community residents in designated zip code areas close to the Pittsburgh, PA, and Memphis, TN, field centers (the Health ABC study). Interview + examination             
(home). 3075 1491 1584 ? Neck or shoulder pain lasting at least 1 month during the previous year Self report One year 70-79    11.9 (10.8-13.0) U   
NP Keenan [73] 2006 UK 1993, (55+ yo), a two-stage random sample from the North Yorkshire Family Health Services Authority. Postal questionnaire 16222 ? ? 86 Any swelling, pain, or stiffness in any of their joints that lasted >6 weeks in the previous 3 months. (identified on a manikin) Self report Three months 65-74 13.1 (11.8-14.4) 17.3 (16.0-18.7) 15.4 (14.1-16.8) L
           75+ 10.6 (9.4-11.8) 16.7 (15.3-18.1) 14.6 (13.3-15.9)  
NP Miro [75] 2007 Spain (65+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population census obtained from the Catalan Statistics Institute, Catalonia. Interview + questionnaire (local primary care centre) 592 274 318 99 The Chronic Pain Grade: “In the past 3 months have you had pain that has lasted for one day or longer in any part of your body?” Self report Three months 65-74    52.6 L
75-84 56.4
85+ 53.5
NP Parsons [77] 2007 UK 2001-3, (18+ yo), random samples from 16 Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework practices, South East quadrant of the UK. Postal questionnaire 2501 1347 1154 47 The Chronic Pain Grade: Any ‘pain which has lasted for 3 months or longer and currently troubles respondents either all of the time or on and off' Self report Three months 65-74    5 L
75-101 3
NP Strine [82] 2007 USA 2002, (18+ yo), Multistage cluster sample of random households from all 50 states and DC (the NHIS). Interview + questionnaire (home). 29828 ? ? 96 “During the past 3 months did you have neck pain [lasting a whole day or more and not fleeting or minor]?” [NB. NP only, LBP not included] Self report Three months 65+    4.8 (4.4-5.2) U
NP Hartvigsen [68] 2004 Denmark 1995,1997,1999, 2001, (70–102 yo), twins from the populations-based twin study (LSADT). Interview + questionnaire (home). 4484 ? ? 100 “Have you during the past month suffered from pain or stiffness in the neck or shoulders?” + diagnosis had been made by a physician Self report One month 70-74 11 9   U
           75-79 12 11   
           80-84 11 14   
           85+ 10 11   
NP Hartvigsen [69] 2006 Denmark 2003, (70–102 yo), twins from the populations-based twin study (LSADT). Interview + questionnaire (home). 1844 ? ? 84 Modified version of the standardised Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ) on Musculoskeletal Pain Self report One month 72-102 19 (16–22) 24 (22–27)   U
NP Hartvigsen [70] 2008 Denmark 2005, (100 yo), all Danes born in 1905 were located through the Danish Civil Registration System. Interview + questionnaire (home). 256 ? ? 56 “During the past month, have you been suffering from stiffness or pain in the neck or shoulders?” Self report One month 100 19.1 22.6 22.1 U
NP Thomas [87] 2004 UK (50+ yo), all patients from three GPs from the North Staffordshire Primary Care Research Consortium (the NorStOP). Postal questionnaire 7878 ? ? 70 “In the past 4 weeks have you had pain that has lasted for one day or longer in any part of your body?” [supplemented by a full body manikin] Self report One month 60-69    22.9 U
           70-79    17.7  
           80+    14.9  
NP Webb [85] 2003 UK (16+ yo), stratified sample of patients from three GP in West Pennine, East of Manchester. Questionnaire. 4515 ? ? 78 Pain lasting for more than 1 week, over the last month, in any of seven areas (back, neck, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee) or in multiple joints Self report One month 65-74 16.7 23.9   U
           75+ 17.8 21.3   
NP Natvig [76] 2004 Norway 1994, (24–76 yo), all inhabitants in six birth cohorts in Ullensaker municipality, northeast of Oslo. Postal questionnaire 3325 1501 1824 54 Standardised Nordic Questionnaire: Any pain or discomfort from the neck during the previous week (illustrated on a body mannequin) Self report One week 64-66    32.3 U
           74-76/ 84-86    24.1  
NP Yaron [86] 2011 Israel 2002, 2006, 2008, (20+ yo), stratified sample drawn from a telephone database on different population sectors. Telephone interview + questionnaire 2520 47% 53% 59-66 The Community Oriented Program for the Control of Rheumatic Diseases core questionnaire (CCQ): “In the past 7 days have you experienced pain in any of the following sites: [ankles]?” Self report One week 61+    53.3 U
NP Goode [65] 2010 USA 2006, (21+ yo), stratified random probability sample of North Carolina telephone numbers, USA. Interview + questionnaire (phone). 2809 ? ? 86 “Neck discomfort or pain. Neck pain starts in the neck area; it may spread to the shoulder or arm.” Chronic, impairing NP 1) pain and activity limitations nearly every day for the past 3 months or 2) greater than 24 episodes of pain in the previous year, with each episode limiting activity for 1 day or more Self report Point 65+    1.2 U
NP Guez [67] 2002 Sweden 1999, (25–74 yo), stratified randomised sample of inhabitants, mainly along the coastal area, northern Sweden (WHO MONICA Study). Questionnaire + examination (medical center) 6000 ? ? 72 ”Have you visited a doctor because of a neck or head injury?”, chronic NP defined as continuous neck complaints for more than 6 months Self report Point 65-74 18 20   U
NP Picavet [78] 2003 The Netherlands 1998, (25+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population register (the DMC3-study). Postal questionnaire 3664 45% 55% 46 [Neck] pain during the survey Self report Point 65+ 17.3 (14.2-20.4) 25.0 (21.5-28.5)   L
Thoracic pain Miro [75] 2007 Spain (65+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population census obtained from the Catalan Statistics Institute, Catalonia. Interview + questionnaire (local primary care centre) 592 274 318 99 The Chronic Pain Grade: “In the past 3 months have you had pain that has lasted for one day or longer in any part of your body?” Self report Three months 65-74    15.0 L
75-84 12.9
85+ 11.6
Thoracic pain Parsons [77] 2007 UK 2001-3, (18+ yo), random samples from 16 Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework practices, South East quadrant of the UK. Postal questionnaire 2501 1347 1154 47 The Chronic Pain Grade: Any ‘pain which has lasted for 3 months or longer and currently troubles respondents either all of the time or on and off' Self report Three months 65-74    2 U
           75-101    2  
Higher back Picavet [78] 2003 The Netherlands 1998, (25+ yo), stratified random sample taken from the population register (the DMC3-study). Postal questionnaire 3664 45% 55% 46 [Higher part of the back] pain during the survey Self report Point 65+ 2.8 (1.4-4.2) 11.9 (9.2-14.6)   L
  1. *Prevalence estimates without decimals are obtained from figures/graphs in the article and should be interpreted with caution.
  2. R: Register. L: Low, U: Unclear, H: High.