Risk factors for development of non-specific musculoskeletal pain in preteens and early adolescents: a prospective 1- year follow-up study

Ashraf A El-Metwally, Jouko J. Salminen, Anssi Auvinen, Gary J Macfarlane and Marja Mikkelsson

The purpose of this study is to estimate occurrence of new-onset pain symptoms, in all musculoskeletal locations, in preteens and early adolescents and investigate risk factors for development of these symptoms.  1756 schoolchildren (mean age 10.8) were recruited from schools in southern Finland. Information was extracted as to whether they experienced musculoskeletal pain and a total of 1192 children were identified as free of musculoskeletal pain symptoms. Information was collected on factors which could potentially predict the development of musculoskeletal pain: headache, abdominal pain, sadness/feeling down, day-time tiredness, difficulty in falling asleep, waking up during nights, level of physical activity and hypermobility. These children were followed-up 1-year later and those with new episodes of non-traumatic and traumatic musculoskeletal pain symptoms were identified.  The results highlight that there may be two types of pain entities with both distinct and common aspects of aetiology. For primary prevention purposes, school healthcare professionals should pay attention to preteens and early adolescents practicing vigorous exercise (predictor of traumatic pain), reporting headache (predictor of non-traumatic pain) and reporting day-time tiredness (predictor of both types of pain).

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2007, 8(46).

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