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Prevalence and Distribution of Musculoskeletal Pain Among Australian Medical Students

PainSci » bibliography » Smith 2007
Tags: chronic pain, muscle pain, fun, pain problems, muscle

One article on PainSci cites Smith 2007: The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain

PainSci commentary on Smith 2007: ?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.

It’s amazingly difficult to find hard data on the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems. However, this Australian study of medical students found that almost 90% of them had some kind of body pain problem, mostly in the neck, lower back and shoulders — and these are young people. It may not be an exaggeration to say that virtually the entire population of planet Earth has musculoskeletal pain!

~ 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.

OBJECTIVES: Although musculoskeletal pain [MSP] represents an important issue for young people and adolescents, few studies have investigated these conditions among a cross-section of medical students.

METHODS: We conducted a questionnaire survey of MSP among 261 students from a medical school in tropical northern Australia during 2004.

RESULTS: We had a 97.3 percent response rate. The prevalence of MSP at any body site varied from 75.8 percent in the second-year students to 89.3 percent in the third-year students, most frequently occurring at the neck [52.8 percent], lower back [51.6 percent], and shoulders [46.5 percent]. When compared with males, female students were more likely to report MSP [3.4 times for neck pain, 2.5 times for upper back pain, 2.0 times for shoulder pain, and 1.8 times as for lower back pain]. Second-year medical students were only 0.4 times as likely to report MSP at either the neck, upper back, or any body site when compared to students in the other three grades.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our study suggests that MSP affects Australian medical students at reasonably high rates, although the prevalence, distributions, and correlations for these conditions do not appear to be uniform.

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