Logo of annrheumdAnnals of the Rheumatic DiseasesVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 Jan; 64(1): 118–123.
PMCID: PMC1755209

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


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.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (85K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Picavet HSJ, Schouten JSAG. Musculoskeletal pain in the Netherlands: prevalences, consequences and risk groups, the DMC(3)-study. Pain. 2003 Mar;102(1-2):167–178. [PubMed]
  • Rekola KE, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Takala J. Use of primary health services in sparsely populated country districts by patients with musculoskeletal symptoms: consultations with a physician. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1993 Apr;47(2):153–157. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Njalsson T, Sigurdsson JA, McAuley RG. Health problems in family practice. An Icelandic multicentre study. Scand J Prim Health Care. 1996 Mar;14(1):4–12. [PubMed]
  • Picavet HSJ, Hazes JMW. Prevalence of self reported musculoskeletal diseases is high. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003 Jul;62(7):644–650. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Urwin M, Symmons D, Allison T, Brammah T, Busby H, Roxby M, Simmons A, Williams G. Estimating the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in the community: the comparative prevalence of symptoms at different anatomical sites, and the relation to social deprivation. Ann Rheum Dis. 1998 Nov;57(11):649–655. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pope DP, Croft PR, Pritchard CM, Silman AJ. Prevalence of shoulder pain in the community: the influence of case definition. Ann Rheum Dis. 1997 May;56(5):308–312. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hasselström Jan, Liu-Palmgren Jenny, Rasjö-Wråk Görel. Prevalence of pain in general practice. Eur J Pain. 2002;6(5):375–385. [PubMed]
  • Kerssens JJ, Verhaak PFM, Bartelds AIM, Sorbi MJ, Bensing JM. Unexplained severe chronic pain in general practice. Eur J Pain. 2002;6(3):203–212. [PubMed]
  • Mäntyselkä P, Kumpusalo E, Ahonen R, Kumpusalo A, Kauhanen J, Viinamäki H, Halonen P, Takala J. Pain as a reason to visit the doctor: a study in Finnish primary health care. Pain. 2001 Jan;89(2-3):175–180. [PubMed]
  • Lundberg Ulf. Psychophysiology of work: stress, gender, endocrine response, and work-related upper extremity disorders. Am J Ind Med. 2002 May;41(5):383–392. [PubMed]
  • Bergman S, Herrström P, Högström K, Petersson IF, Svensson B, Jacobsson LT. Chronic musculoskeletal pain, prevalence rates, and sociodemographic associations in a Swedish population study. J Rheumatol. 2001 Jun;28(6):1369–1377. [PubMed]
  • Brekke Mette, Hjortdahl Per, Kvien Tore K. Severity of musculoskeletal pain: relations to socioeconomic inequality. Soc Sci Med. 2002 Jan;54(2):221–228. [PubMed]
  • Van der Heyden JHA, Demarest S, Tafforeau J, Van Oyen H. Socio-economic differences in the utilisation of health services in Belgium. Health Policy. 2003 Aug;65(2):153–165. [PubMed]
  • van der Meer JB, van den Bos J, Mackenbach JP. Socioeconomic differences in the utilization of health services in a Dutch population: the contribution of health status. Health Policy. 1996 Jul;37(1):1–18. [PubMed]
  • Gerr Fredric, Marcus Michele, Ensor Cindy, Kleinbaum David, Cohen Susan, Edwards Alicia, Gentry Eileen, Ortiz Daniel J, Monteilh Carolyn. A prospective study of computer users: I. Study design and incidence of musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders. Am J Ind Med. 2002 Apr;41(4):221–235. [PubMed]
  • Jensen Chris. Development of neck and hand-wrist symptoms in relation to duration of computer use at work. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2003 Jun;29(3):197–205. [PubMed]
  • Ortiz-Hernández Luis, Tamez-González Silvia, Martínez-Alcántara Susana, Méndez-Ramírez Ignacio. Computer use increases the risk of musculoskeletal disorders among newspaper office workers. Arch Med Res. 2003 Jul-Aug;34(4):331–342. [PubMed]
  • Yassi A, Sprout J, Tate R. Upper limb repetitive strain injuries in Manitoba. Am J Ind Med. 1996 Oct;30(4):461–472. [PubMed]
  • Brogmus GE, Sorock GS, Webster BS. Recent trends in work-related cumulative trauma disorders of the upper extremities in the United States: an evaluation of possible reasons. J Occup Environ Med. 1996 Apr;38(4):401–411. [PubMed]

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).

Articles from Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    PubMed Central articles cited in books
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...