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Neck-Shoulder-Arm Pain Trends in Stockholm Studied

Last Updated: August 14, 2009.

The prevalence of self-reported nonspecific neck-shoulder-arm pain and concurrent low back pain or psychological distress has increased in Stockholm County, Sweden, over the past 16 years, but may finally be starting a decline, according to a study in the Aug. 1 issue of Spine.

FRIDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of self-reported nonspecific neck-shoulder-arm pain and concurrent low back pain or psychological distress has increased in Stockholm County, Sweden, over the past 16 years, but may finally be starting a decline, according to a study in the Aug. 1 issue of Spine.

Ola Leijon, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed responses to the Stockholm Public Health Surveys, circulated in the county every four years between 1990 and 2006, focusing on self-reports of nonspecific neck-shoulder-arm pain and concurrent low back pain or psychological distress. The number of survey responses ranged from 1,976 in 1990 to 26,611 in 2006.

Over the 16-year time span of the five surveys, the researchers found that self-reported neck-shoulder-arm pain increased, from 22.8 to 25.0 percent for females and from 12.8 to 15.4 percent for males. Self-reported neck-shoulder-arm pain with concurrent low back pain increased, from 8.4 to 10.8 percent for females and 5.3 to 6.6 percent for males. Neck-shoulder-arm pain with concurrent psychological distress increased more significantly, from 4.4 to 8.5 percent for females and from 2.0 to 4.3 percent for males. The authors further note that trends showed increased rates in each category through 2002, and a modest decrease in 2006 compared to 2002.

"Although the prevalence of neck-shoulder-arm pain and concurrent symptoms decreased in 2006 compared to 2002, it is still too early to conclude that we have reached and passed the peak of the 'epidemic' of neck-shoulder-arm pain," Leijon and colleagues write.

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