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Ann Rheum Dis. Jan 2005; 64(1): 118–123.
PMCID: PMC1755209

Incidence and prevalence of complaints of the neck and upper extremity in general practice

Abstract

Objective: To study the incidence and prevalence of neck and upper extremity musculoskeletal complaints in Dutch general practice.

Methods: Data were obtained from the second Dutch national survey of general practice. In all, 195 general practitioners (GPs) from 104 practices across the Netherlands recorded all contacts with patients during 12 consecutive months. Incidence densities and consultation rates were calculated.

Results: The total number of contacts during the registration period of one year was 1 524 470. The most commonly reported complaint was neck symptoms (incidence 23.1 per 1000 person-years), followed by shoulder symptoms (incidence 19.0 per 1000 person-years). Sixty six GP consultations per 1000 person-years were attributable to a new complaint or new episode of complaint of the neck or upper extremity (incidence density). In all, the GPs were consulted 147 times per 1000 registered persons for complaints of the neck or upper extremity. For most complaints the incidence densities and consultation rates were higher for women than for men.

Conclusions: Neck and upper extremity symptoms are common in Dutch general practice. The GP is consulted approximately seven times each week for a complaint relating to the neck or upper extremity; of these, three are new complaints or new episodes. Attention should be paid to training GPs to deal with neck and upper limb complaints, and to research on the prognosis and treatment of these common complaints in primary care.

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Selected References

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Figures and Tables

Figure 1
 Incidence of neck and upper extremity disorders in relation to anatomical location.
Figure 2
 Sex and age specific incidence densities of neck and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (ICPC codes L01, L08–L12, L83, L92–L93).

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