University of Oulu

Neck and shoulder pain in a young population: prevalence and etiological factors

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Author: Siivola, Sari1,2,3
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health Science and General Practice
2Oulu University Hospital, Unit of General Practice
3University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2003
Publish Date: 2003-08-30
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium of Kastelli Research Center (Aapistie 1), on August 30th, 2003, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Olavi Hämäläinen
Professor Arja Rimpelä


This study comprised three parts: a cross-sectional survey of 826 high school students, a 7-year follow-up survey of the same sample, and a MRI study of a subgroup (n=31) of the follow-up study population. Firstly, the aims of the study were to determine the prevalence and incidence of neck and shoulder pain (NSP) in populations 15-18 and 22-25 years old, and to evaluate sociodemographic factors, body size measurements, psychological factors and leisure time activities as possible associated and predictive factors of NSP. Secondly, the aim was to find out whether structural changes of the cervical spine detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were associated with NSP in young adults.

The results showed the prevalence of self-reported weekly NSP in 15- to 18-year-old adolescents to be 17%, and in seven years, the prevalence of weekly NSP had increased to 28%. After seven years, the six-month incidence of occasional or weekly NSP was 59% among those asymptomatic at baseline. In the cross-sectional study, female gender, low physical activity, hobbies which statically load the upper extremities, low intensity of physical exercise, self-assessed moderate physical condition and psychosomatic symptoms and depressive mood were associated with a high prevalence of NSP, and sports which dynamically load the upper extremities were associated to a low prevalence of NSP.

Symptoms in adolescence were associated with a high prevalence of NSP seven years later. Activity in sports, which dynamically load the upper extremities in adolescence, was associated with a low prevalence of NSP in adulthood. Of all variables in the study, psychosomatic symptoms were most congruently associated with a high prevalence of NSP, and psychosomatic symptoms in adolescence also predicted NSP in adulthood. In the MRI study, disc degeneration and anular tears of the cervical spine were common in asymptomatic and symptomatic subjects. Disc herniations were the only abnormal finding that was significantly more common in symptomatic subjects.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7100-9
ISBN Print: 951-42-7099-1
Issue: 743
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2003. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.