Multisite musculoskeletal pain predicts medically certified disability retirement among Finns

BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal pain at several sites (multisite pain) is more common than single-site pain. Little is known on its effects on disability pension (DP) retirement. METHODS: A nationally representative sample comprised 4071 Finns in the workforce aged 30 to 63. Data (questionnaire, interview, clinical examination) were gathered in 2000-2001 and linked with national DP registers for 2000-2011. Pain during the preceding month in 18 locations was combined into four sites (neck, upper limbs, low back, lower limbs). Hazard ratios (HR) of DP were estimated by Cox regression. RESULTS: The HR of any DP (n = 477) was 1.6 (95% confidence interval 1.2-2.1) for one, 2.5 (1.9-3.3) for two, 3.1 (2.3-4.3) for three and 5.6 (4.0-7.8) for four pain sites, when adjusted for age and gender. When additionally adjusted for clinically assessed chronic diseases, the HRs varied from 1.4 (1.0-1.8) to 3.5 (2.5-4.9), respectively. When further adjusted for physical and psychosocial workload, education, body mass index, smoking, exercise and sleep disorders, the HRs were 1.3 (0.9-1.7), 1.6 (1.2-2.2), 1.8 (1.3-2.5) and 2.5 (1.8-3.6). The number of pain sites was especially strong in predicting DPs due to musculoskeletal diseases (HRs in the full model; 3.1 to 4.3), but it also predicted DPs due to other somatic diseases (respective HRs 1.3 to 2.3); pain in all four sites was also predictive of DPs due to mental disorders (full model HR 2.2). CONCLUSIONS: The number of pain sites independently predicted DP retirement. Employees with multisite pain may need specific support to maintain their work ability.

Source: Haukka E, Kaila-Kangas L, Ojajarvi A, et al. European Journal of Pain, 2014.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejp.635

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