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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1998 Jul 1;23(13):1457-63.

A population-based study of spinal pain among 35-45-year-old individuals. Prevalence, sick leave, and health care use.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Orebro Medical Center, Sweden.



A questionnaire was mailed to 3000 randomly selected 35-45-year-old individuals in three communities in central Sweden.


To study the 1-year prevalence of spinal pain and its ramifications in the form of pain, function, sick leave, and health care use.


Previous researchers have used a variety of definitions and populations, but primarily have investigated the occurrence of pain. Comprehensive data are needed concerning health care use, the degree of the pain problem, functional disturbances, and sick leave.


Participants in the study completed a questionnaire regarding spinal pain during the past year including the degree of their experienced pain, functional impairment, lost work days, and health care use.


A total of 2305 people (78.5%) responded to the questionnaire. Nonrespondents had similar characteristics but a slightly lower 1-year prevalence rate than did respondents. For respondents, the prevalence of spinal pain during the past year was 66.3%, with women having a slightly higher prevalence than men. Approximately 25% of the respondents indicated that they had a substantial problem based on ratings of pain, functional impairment, and sick leave. Work absenteeism reported to the Public Social Insurance Office involved 19% of those with pain, but an additional 15% indicated unreported absenteeism. On average, those with pain visited health care providers three times during the past year, but a small number of those who experienced pain consumed large amounts of health care and illness benefits. An important gender difference was shown, such that when pain was at its worst, men took sick leave, whereas women sought health care.


Taken together, these data indicate that spinal pain is common among 35-45-year-old men and-women, and that it is related to marked problems for approximately one fourth of those who experience pain. Gender differences exist in the pattern of sick leave and health care use, and a small proportion of those with pain consume very large amounts of the resources. Consequently, there is a need for early, effective, preventive treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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