PainSci summary of Harkness 2005?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
In the northwest region of England, researchers examined then-and-now data try to figure out if people hurt more than they used to, between the 1950s and today. They used data collected by the Arthritis Research Campaign, looking at the prevelence of low back and shoulder pain. Interviews and questionnaires were used. They found that “the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain is much higher than that reported over 40 years ago. The change in prevalence is unlikely to be entirely due to the study design.” They pointed out that the appearance of an increase “could be partly explained by the ‘worried well’. The ‘worried well’ are those patients who are concerned about their health, and attend their GP to seek reassurance about their well-being.”
Their data also contributes to the evidence showing that low back pain dominates the middle of life, and does not increase steadily due into the golden years, as so many people assume.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that the prevalence of specific musculoskeletal pain symptoms has increased over time in the northwest region of England. To meet this objective we have examined the difference in the prevalence of low back, shoulder and widespread pain between the 1950s and today using historical data collected by the Arthritis Research Campaign (arc).
METHODS: Two cross-sectional surveys conducted over 40 yr apart in the northwest region of England. The status of two regional pain sites and widespread pain was determined using interview and questionnaire responses, for the earlier and later studies respectively. Subjects were classified positively if they reported low back pain, shoulder pain or widespread pain on the day of the survey. Rates were standardized to the Greater Manchester population.
RESULTS: There were large differences in the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain between the two surveys. For all three symptoms examined prevalence increased from 2- to 4-fold between the two surveys. In both surveys low back pain was more common in women. Shoulder and widespread pain was less prevalent in women than in men in the earlier survey but by the time of the later survey women reported more pain at these sites.
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain is much higher than that reported over 40 yr ago. The change in prevalence is unlikely to be entirely due to the study design; other possible explanations such as the increased reporting or awareness of these symptoms is discussed.
- “Has the prevalence of invalidating musculoskeletal pain changed over the last 15 years (1993-2006)? A Spanish population-based survey,” an article in Journal of Pain, 2010.
- “Knee osteoarthritis has doubled in prevalence since the mid-20th century,” an article in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2017.
One article on PainScience.com cites Harkness 2005 as a source:
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.