Background: Knowledge about the occurrence and distribution of musculoskeletal problems in early life is needed. The objectives were to group children aged 8 to 16 according to their distribution of pain in the spine, lower- and upper extremity, determine the proportion of children in each subgroup, and describe these in relation to sex, age, number- and length of episodes with pain.
Method: Data on musculoskeletal pain from about 1,000 Danish schoolchildren was collected over 3 school years (2011 to 2014) using weekly mobile phone text message responses from parents, indicating whether their child had pain in the spine, lower extremity and/or upper extremity. Result are presented for each school year individually.
Results: When pain was defined as at least 1 week with pain during a school year, Danish schoolchildren could be divided into three almost equally large groups for all three school years: Around 30% reporting no pain, around 40% reporting pain in one region, and around 30% reporting pain in two or three regions. Most commonly children experienced pain from the lower extremities (~ 60%), followed by the spine (~ 30%) and the upper extremities (~ 23%). Twice as many girls reported pain in all three sites compared to boys (10% vs. 5%) with no other statistically significant sex or age differences observed. When pain was defined as at least 3 weeks with pain during a schoolyear, 40% reported pain with similar patterns to those for the more lenient pain definition of 1 week.
Conclusion: Danish schoolchildren often experienced pain at more than one pain site during a schoolyear, and a significantly larger proportion of girls than boys reported pain in all three regions. This could indicate that, at least in some instances, the musculoskeletal system should be regarded as one entity, both for clinical and research purposes.
Author keywords: Paediatrics — Multi region pain — Children — Prevalence — Occurrence — Adolescence — Distribution
Author affiliations: SF, JH, KBD, TJ: Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark; WV: Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatoloy, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland; WV: Institute for Medical Biometry and Statistics, Medical Faculty and Medical Center, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany; JH, LH: Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics, Odense, Denmark; TJ: Health Sciences Research Centre, University College Lillebaelt, Odense, Denmark
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