Pain at Multiple Sites Is Associated With Prevalent and Incident Fractures in Older Adults

Feng Pan, Jing Tian, Dawn Aitken, Flavia Cicuttini, Graeme Jones

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Musculoskeletal pain is common and typically occurs at multiple sites. Pain has been shown to be associated with falls risk; however, whether an increased risk for falls associated with multisite pain (MSP) translates into an increased risk of fractures has not been investigated. This study aimed to examine the association of number of painful sites with prevalent and incident fractures. Data from a longitudinal population-based study of older adults (mean age 63 years) were utilized. Follow-up was performed at 2.6, 5.1, and 10.7 years later, respectively. Presence/absence of pain at the neck, back, hands, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet was assessed by questionnaire at baseline. Participants were classified into three groups according to the total number of painful sites: zero to two, three to four, and five to seven. Fractures were self-reported at each time point. BMD was measured by DXA. Falls risk was calculated based on the Short-Form Physiological Profile Assessment. Log-binomial regression was used for the analyses. There were 450 fractures at baseline and 154 new fractures reported during a mean follow-up period of 10.7 years (range 9.2 to 12.5 years). In multivariable analyses, number of painful sites was associated with prevalent fractures at any and nonvertebral site. Furthermore, participants with five to seven painful sites had an increased risk of incident fractures at any site (RR 1.69; 95% CI, 1.13 to 2.53); major site, including the femur, radius, ulnar, vertebral, rib, and humerus (RR 2.17; 95% CI 1.12 to 4.22); and vertebral site (RR 6.44, 95% CI, 1.64 to 25.33) compared with those with pain at zero to two sites. These associations remained statistically significant after further adjustment for falls risk and BMD. Pain at multiple sites was associated with incident fracture risk in a dose-response manner, suggesting that widespread pain is an independent contributor to fracture risk. The potential for pain management in fracture prevention warrants further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2012-2018
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019



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