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Shoulder pain prevalence by age and within occupational groups: A systematic review

Hodgetts, C.J., Leboeuf-Yde, C., Beynon, A. and Walker, B.F.ORCID: 0000-0002-8506-6740 (2021) Shoulder pain prevalence by age and within occupational groups: A systematic review. Archives of Physiotherapy, 11 (1). Art. 24.

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Shoulder pain was previously shown to diminish in older populations and it was suggested that this could be explained by reduced usage with age. Our objectives were to investigate if estimates of shoulder pain continue to increase after the age of 50 in working populations and to compare these estimates in physically demanding occupations with sedentary occupations.


A systematic review of retrospective, cross-sectional, prospective, or longitudinal.

studies reporting prevalence or incidence of non-specific shoulder pain in occupational groups stratified by age. Searches were conducted in PubMed, Scopus, and CINAHL from inception until January 2020. Study characteristics and prevalence estimates stratified by age were extracted. Two reviewers independently performed a critical analysis of the included studies to determine their validity and risk of bias.


Twenty studies with a total of 40,487 participants and one study of a clinical data base were included and assigned a direction of the estimates for shoulder pain as either ‘increasing’, ‘remaining stable’ or ‘decreasing’ past the age of 50. Shoulder pain generally increased past 50, with 16 of the 21 included studies reporting higher estimates/odds ratios in older participants. In the more physically active occupations over 50, the estimates increased in 14 of the 18 samples compared to only two of the four involving sedentary occupations.


Shoulder pain prevalence remains common in workers beyond the age of 50. Prevalence continues to increase in physically demanding occupations. Clinicians should consider factors of occupation when managing shoulder pain.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics (CMMIT)
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd as part of Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors.
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