Neck and shoulder pain in 70- to 79-year-old men and women: Findings from the health, aging and body composition study

Molly T. Vogt, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Tamara B. Harris, Michael C. Nevitt, James D. Kang, Susan M. Rubin, Stephen B. Kritchevsky, Anne B. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background context: Musculoskeletal pain in the cervicobrachial region is considered a major health problem among adults of working age, but little is known about the impact of this pain in the elderly. Purpose: Determine the prevalence of neck and shoulder pain in a well-functioning cohort, identify factors associated with this pain, assess the pattern of coexisting joint pain and evaluate the impact of this pain on physical functioning. Study design: Cross-sectional study. Patient sample: Black and white men and women, aged 70 to 79 years, participating in the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. Outcome measures: Not applicable. Methods: Between April 1997 and June 1998, 3,075 men and women participating in Health ABC study completed the initial home interview and clinical examination. Information was collected on musculoskeletal pain, medical history, depressive symptomatology and physical function. Physical performance measures were obtained. Results: A total of 11.9% of participants reported neck pain of one month or more in duration and 18.9% reported shoulder pain. White women had the highest prevalence of neck pain (15.4%) and black women the highest prevalence of shoulder pain (24.3%). The correlates of both neck and shoulder pain were female gender, no education beyond high school, poorer self-rated health, depressive symptomatology and a medical history of arthritis, heart attack, angina. Increasing severity of both neck and shoulder pain was associated with an increased prevalence of joint pain at other body sites and with poor functional capacity. Measures of physical performance involving the upper extremity were also decreased. Conclusions: Neck and shoulder pain, either alone or in conjunction with pain in other joints, has a substantial impact on the function and well-being of the older adults in this cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-441
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Elderly
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Neck pain
  • Physical function
  • Race
  • Shoulder pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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