Quality of Life Research

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 529–539 | Cite as

Patterns of pain and mobility limitation in older people: cross-sectional findings from a population survey of 18,497 adults aged 50 years and over

  • Sara Mottram
  • George Peat
  • Elaine Thomas
  • Ross Wilkie
  • Peter Croft


Mobility limitation is the most common disability in the general population, and pain is a frequent symptom at older ages. We have investigated the association of different patterns of pain and mobility limitation in a large sample of older adults. A cross-sectional postal survey of all adults aged 50 years and over registered with eight general practices in North Staffordshire, UK, resulted in 18,497 respondents (adjusted response=70.8%). Information on demographics, recent pain and the self-reported level of mobility limitation was collected. Associations between pain and mobility limitation were assessed using a partial proportional odds model, taking into account age, gender and socio-economic status. Limitation in walking 100 yards was reported by 29% of respondents. Limitation increased sharply with age, and was higher in the female and lower socio-economic groups. Persons reporting pain were significantly more likely to report limitation. The relationship between mobility limitation and pain was stronger in the youngest age group, but proportionally more people in the oldest age groups have mobility limitation associated with pain. Lower limb and multiple pains present a potential target for the prevention of mobility limitation up to the oldest age groups.


Lower limb pain Mobility limitation North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project (NorStOP) Older adults Partial proportional odds model 



Confidence interval


Mental component summary


North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project


Odds ratio


Physical component summary


Physical functioning scale


Partial proportional odds model


Standard deviation


Socio-economic status


Short Form 12


Short Form 36

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Mottram
    • 1
  • George Peat
    • 1
  • Elaine Thomas
    • 1
  • Ross Wilkie
    • 1
  • Peter Croft
    • 1
  1. 1.Primary Care Musculoskeletal Research Centre, Primary Care SciencesKeele UniversityKeeleUK

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