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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

Abstract

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.

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Abbreviations

CI:

Confidence interval

MCS:

Mental component summary

NorStOP:

North Staffordshire Osteoarthritis Project

OR:

Odds ratio

PCS:

Physical component summary

PF-10:

Physical functioning scale

PPOM:

Partial proportional odds model

SD:

Standard deviation

SES:

Socio-economic status

SF-12:

Short Form 12

SF-36:

Short Form 36

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Acknowledgements

This study is supported financially by a Programme Grant awarded by the Medical Research Council, UK (grant code: G9900220), and by funding secured from the North Staffordshire Primary Care R&D Consortium for NHS Service Support Costs. The authors would like to thank the Keele GP Research Partnership, the administrative staff at Keele University’s Primary Care Musculoskeletal Research Centre and the general practices from the North Staffordshire Primary Care Research Consortium.

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Correspondence to Sara Mottram.

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Mottram, S., Peat, G., Thomas, E. et al. 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. Qual Life Res 17, 529–539 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-008-9324-7

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Keywords

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