August 11, 2014
1 min read

Gender, level of sports participation associated with daily pain in adolescents

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Nearly two out of three Danish adolescents reported pain during physical activity, and one out of three reported pain in more than one body region, with female sex and high level of sports participation associated with an increased odds of having daily and multi-site pain, according to study results.

In a population-based, cross-sectional study, researchers surveyed 4,007 Danish adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 years using an online questionnaire. The questionnaires, given during physical education lessons, contained a mannequin divided into 12 regions, which participants used to indicate their current pain sites and pain frequency, characteristics, sports participation and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measured by EuroQol 5D.

Overall, 2,953 participants answered the questionnaire, with 33.3% reporting multi-site pain, 19.8% reporting almost daily pain and 61% reporting current pain in at least one region. The researchers found knee and back pain were the most common sites of pain.

Increased odds of having almost daily pain and multi-site pain were associated with female sex and a high level of sports participation, whereas a better EuroQol 5D score was associated with decreased odds of having almost daily pain or multi-site pain, according to study results.

Although pain tends to disappear with the right training, fitting training sessions into the lives of adolescents can be a challenge, according to study author, Michael S. Rathleff, PhD.

“It is worrying that the pain only disappears in the case of half of the young people who actually do the training,” Rathleff said in a press release. “The indications are that we should start the treatment somewhat earlier where it is easier to cute the pain. Though this does not necessarily mean that all adolescents with bad knees must visit a physiotherapist.”


Rathleff MS. BMC Pediatr. 2013;doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-191.

Disclosure: The authors have no relevant financial disclosures.