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J Rehabil Med. 2008 Jul;40(7):555-61. doi: 10.2340/16501977-0205.

Functioning in neck and low back pain from a 12-year perspective: a prospective population-based study.

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Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of unspecific neck pain and low back pain at a given time (1990-91) with respect to physical and social functioning and role limitations due to emotional problems 12 years later.


A rural male study population (2351 individuals) was established in 1989 and a first survey conducted in 1990-91. A follow-up survey was performed in 2002-03. A total of 1405 persons participated in both surveys. Functioning and role limitations in 2002-03 were evaluated using the SF-36 instrument. Several possible confounders were included in the analyses.


Unspecific neck pain or low back pain in 1990-91 was shown in a multivariate longitudinal regression model to be significantly related to limited physical (odds ratio (OR)=2.08; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.51-2.87) and social (OR=1.92; 95% CI 1.33-2.75) functioning 12 years later. The effects were only slightly modified by the confounders analysed. However, higher education independently and significantly predicted a low risk for functional limitations.


Non-specific neck pain and low back pain at a given time impacted on the risk of limited physical and social functioning many years later. Current symptoms of depression and anxiety at the time for the second survey had a high impact on functional limitations.

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