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J Epidemiol. 2014;24(6):474-83. Epub 2014 Jul 26.

Relationship between physical activity and chronic musculoskeletal pain among community-dwelling Japanese adults.

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Department of Health Promotion and Exercise, National Institute of Health and Nutrition.



Both little and excessive physical activity (PA) may relate to chronic musculoskeletal pain. The primary objective of this study was to characterize the relationship of PA levels with chronic low back pain (CLBP) and chronic knee pain (CKP).


We evaluated 4559 adults aged 40-79 years in a community-based cross-sectional survey conducted in 2009 in Shimane, Japan. We used self-administered questionnaires to assess sociodemographics and health status: PA was assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and CLBP and CKP were assessed by a modified version of the Knee Pain Screening Tool. We examined relationships of PA with prevalence of CLBP and CKP using Poisson regression, controlling for potential confounders.


CLBP and CKP were both prevalent (14.1% and 10.7%, respectively) and associated with history of injury, medication use, and consultation with physicians. PA was not significantly related to CLBP or CKP (P > 0.05) before or after adjustment for potential confounders. For example, compared with adults reporting moderate PA (8.25-23.0 MET-hours/week), prevalence ratios for CKP adjusted for sex, age, education years, self-rated health, depressive symptom, smoking, chronic disease history, and body-mass index were 1.12 (95% confidential interval [CI] 0.84-1.50) among those with the lowest PA and 1.26 (95% CI 0.93-1.70) among those with the highest PA (P quadratic = 0.08). The prevalence ratios were further attenuated toward the null after additional adjustment for history of injury, medication use, and consultation (P quadratic = 0.17).


This cross-sectional study showed that there were no significant linear or quadratic relationships of self-reported PA with CLBP and CKP. Future longitudinal study with objective measurements is needed.

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