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A 12-year follow-up of subjects initially sicklisted with neck/shoulder or low back diagnoses

PainSci » bibliography » Kjellman et al 2001
Tags: neck, back pain, head/neck, spine, pain problems

One article on PainSci cites Kjellman 2001: The Complete Guide to Neck Pain & Cricks

PainSci commentary on Kjellman 2001: ?This page is one of thousands in the 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 wherever possible.

This study was based on a survey of 155 Swedish patients who had suffered an episode of neck or back pain 12 years prior, severe enough that they missed at least a month of work. They all answered a questionnaire about their current status, revealing a striking pattern: 96% of those who’d had neck and shoulder pain were still suffering to some degree, compared to just 75% of those who’d had back pain.

Based on this data, having a nasty episode of neck and back pain is a strong risk factor for developing extremely persistent symptoms, but “significantly more so for those initially having neck/shoulder diagnoses.”

~ 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.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Neck/shoulder and low back pain are common in the Western world and can cause great personal and economic consequences, but so far there are few long term follow-up studies of the consequences of back pain, especially studies that separate the location of back pain. More knowledge is needed about different patterns of risk factors and prognoses for neck/shoulder and low back pain, respectively, and they should not be treated as similar conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible long-term differences in neck/shoulder and low back symptoms, experienced over a 12-year period, with regard to work status, present health, discomfort and influence on daily activities.

METHOD: A retrospective cohort study of individuals sicklisted with neck/shoulder or low back diagnoses 12 years ago was undertaken. Included were all 213 people who, in 1985, lived in the municipality of Linköping, Sweden, were aged 25-34 years and who had taken at least one new period of sickleave lasting> 28 days with a neck/shoulder or low back diagnosis. In 1996, a questionnaire was mailed to the 204 people who were still resident in Sweden (response rate 73%).

RESULTS: Those initially absent with neck/shoulder diagnoses rated their present state of discomfort as worse than those sicklisted with low back diagnoses. Only 4% of the neck/shoulder group reported no present discomfort compared with 25% of the low back group. Notably, both groups reported the same duration of low back discomfort during the last year, which may indicate a higher risk for symptoms in more than one location for subjects with neck/shoulder problems.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with sickness absence of more than 28 days with neck/shoulder or low back diagnoses appear to be at high risk of developing long-standing symptoms significantly more so for those initially having neck/shoulder diagnoses.

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