Leisure physical activity & various pain symptoms among adolescents – fibromyalgia research

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between leisure

physical activity and various pain symptoms in adolescents.

METHODS: In this nationwide cohort based cross sectional study

in Finland, 698 schoolchildren, 344 girls and 354 boys, aged

10 to 17 years responded to a questionnaire on pain symptoms

(neck and shoulder pain, upper back pain, low back pain, upper

limb pain, lower limb pain, headache, and abdominal pain) and

physical activity habits and also participated in a fitness


RESULTS: Reported physical activity correlated with

measured fitness. Musculoskeletal pains (p = 0.013) (in

particular low back pain (p = 0.022), upper limb pain

(p<0.001), and lower imb pain (p<0.001)) were found more often

in subjects participating in large amounts of leisure physical

activity, while non-musculoskeletal pains (p = 0.065) (in

particular headache among boys (p = 0.004)) tended to be less

common. Co-occurrence of different musculoskeletal pains was

common in subjects participating in sports.


addition to its likely long term health benefits, vigorous

physical activity causes musculoskeletal pains during

adolescence. This should be considered when tailoring health

promotion programmes to adolescents. Also, co-occurrence of

musculoskeletal pains may occur as the result of sports

activity, which should be considered as a confounder in

epidemiological studies on fibromyalgia and related issues.

Kujala UM, Taimela S, Viljanen T

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