Prevalence of Disability in Patients With Musculoskeletal Pain and Rheumatic Diseases in a Population From Cuenca, Ecuador

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The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of disability in patients with musculoskeletal pain and rheumatic diseases in Cuenca, Ecuador.


We performed a cross-sectional analytical study with randomized sampling in 4877 subjects, from urban and rural areas. COPCORD (Community Oriented Program for Control of Rheumatic Diseases)–validated questionnaire was administered house-to-house to identify subjects with nontraumatic musculoskeletal pain and rheumatic diseases. The subjects were assessed by rheumatologists for diagnostic accuracy, and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index was administered to assess functional capacity. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the association of rheumatic diseases with functional disability.


Functional disability was found in 221 subjects (73.1% women), with mean age 62 (SD, 18.2) years, residing in rural areas (201 [66.5%]), with education of 6.9 (SD, 5.3) years, and of low income (77 [47.2%]). The value of HAQ-DI was a mean of 0.2 (0–2.9). The real prevalence of physical disability was 9.5%. Moderate and severe disability predominated in activities such as kneeling (4.9% and 3.3%), squatting (4.8% and 2.7%), and leaning to pick up objects (3.7% and 0.9%), respectively. Rheumatic diseases associated with physical disabilities were knee osteoarthritis (95 [31.4%]) and hand osteoarthritis (69 [22.8%]), mechanical low-back pain (43 [14.2%]), fibromyalgia (27 [9.5%]), and rheumatoid arthritis (11 [3.6%]; P < 0.001).


Physical disability was associated with older age, female sex, rural residence, lower education, and lower income. Moderate and severe disability predominated in the dimensions of kneeling, squatting, and picking up objects. Rheumatic diseases associated with disability were hand and knee osteoarthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

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