Research into musculoskeletal conditions often focusses on pain at single sites, such as the knee, yet several studies have previously reported the high prevalence of multiple sites of musculoskeletal pain. The most common form of musculoskeletal condition is arthritis, with osteoarthritis (OA) the most common cause of joint pain in adults 45 years and over. However, there is limited recognition of the prevalence of multisite peripheral joint pain in those either living with or at risk of OA, therefore this study set out to estimate the prevalence of multisite peripheral joint pain in adults 45 years and older, and its impact on several dimensions of health.
A cross-sectional population survey was mailed to adults (n = 28,443) aged 45 years and over from eight general practices in the North West Midlands, United Kingdom (UK). Prevalence rates were established for multisite peripheral joint pain (pain in two or more sites; hands, hips, knees, feet). Impact was measured for general health (SF-12 MCS & PCS), QoL (EQ-5D), pain intensity (0-10 numerical ratings scale) and the number of consultations with a range of health care professionals.
Of 15,083 responders (53%), multisite peripheral joint pain was reported by 54%. Peripheral joint pain was present in n = 11,928, of which 68% reported pain in multiple sites. Multisite peripheral joint pain was shown to be significantly associated with reduced physical (Mean difference = -5.9 95% CI -6.3,-5.5) and mental (-2.8 95% CI -3.2,-2.4) components of the SF-12, reduced QoL (-0.14 95% CI -0.15, -0.13), increased pain (+0.70 95% CI 0.62, 0.79) and increased odds of consultations with GPs (OR 2.4 95% CI 2.2, 2.6) and practice nurses (OR 2.6 (95% CI 2.1, 3.2) when compared to single site pain.
Multisite peripheral joint pain is prevalent in the population in adults 45 years and over and has a significant negative impact on several dimensions of health. Health care professionals should consider joint pain beyond the index site in order to address holistic management.