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Sex Differences in musculoskeletal pain in older adults

Leveille, Suzanne G.a,*; Zhang, Yuqingb; McMullen, Williamc; Kelly-Hayes, Margaretd; Felson, David T.b

doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2005.05.002

Little is known about sex differences in musculoskeletal pain in older persons. There were 682 women and 380 men aged 72 years and older who participated in the 22nd biennial exam of the Framingham Study (1992–1993). Participants were asked to identify pain locations on a homunculus showing all regions of the body. Pain was categorized according to number of regions, with the most disseminated pain classified as widespread pain (back pain and upper and lower extremity pain with bilaterality). Among the women, 63% reported pain in one or more regions, compared to 52% of men. Widespread pain was more prevalent among women than men (15 versus 5%, respectively). In both men and women, pain was associated with fair or poor self-rated health, history of back pain before age 65, and disability. Factors associated with pain only in women included body mass index, systolic blood pressure, and depressive symptoms. In men but not women, pain was associated with polyarticular radiographic osteoarthritis. In conclusion, musculoskeletal pain was more prevalent and more widespread in older women than older men. Men and women differ in the factors associated with musculoskeletal pain in older ages. Further research is needed to understand sex differences in musculoskeletal pain the older population.

aDivision of General Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, RO-103, Boston, MA 02215, USA

bArthritis Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

cResearch and Training Institute, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, Boston, MA, USA

dDepartment of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 617 667 5313; fax: +1 617 667 2854.


Received 10 August 2004; received in revised form 24 March 2005; accepted 3 May 2005.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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