Incidence of Musculoskeletal Complaints in a Large Adult Norwegian County Population. The HUNT Study

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Study Design.

Cross-sectional study. Between 1995 and 1997, all inhabitants aged 20 years and older in the Nord-Trøndelag county in Norway were invited to fill in 2 different questionnaires at different times concerning musculoskeletal complaints.


To estimate the incidence of musculoskeletal complaints lasting at least 15 days during the past month at 9 different anatomic sites in relation to age and gender.

Summary of Background Data.

Incidence data of musculoskeletal complaints are scarce.


Individuals who reported no musculoskeletal complaints lasting for at least 3 months during the past year were defined as a population at risk and were subjects for the incidence estimates.


Of 49,720 individuals (response rate 53.5%), the overall age-adjusted incidence of musculoskeletal complaints was 7.9% (95% confidence interval 7.5% to 8.2%) (women: 7.1%, men: 8.7%). The highest incidence rate was found for the lower back (women: 2.3%, men: 2.8%). The incidence of spinal complaints declined after age 60 years, whereas the incidence of complaints in lower limbs and distal upper limbs tended to be stable or increase in the older age groups.


In this, to our knowledge, first large-scale population-based study evaluating the incidence of musculoskeletal complaints, nearly 1 in 12 individuals reported musculoskeletal complaints lasting at least 15 days during the past month.

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