Although musculoskeletal problems are the third most common reason for visiting general practice,1 there is scant literature on the nature of these presentations.
In order to understand more about
pain presentations in primary care, the
authors undertook a descriptive study on
musculoskeletal pain presentations to a
general practice with a special interest in
The aim was to describe and categorise
musculoskeletal pain presentations into
Over a 5 week period in 2009, 133
consecutive musculoskeletal pain patients
consented to participate in a study on pain
presentations. Patients were categorised
into: somatic, somatic referred,
neuropathic or a combination of these.
Further information was collected on age,
gender, length of attendance, mode of
referral, and current pain history.
Patients were predominantly female
with chronic pain problems. Somatic
low back pain was the commonest pain
presentation. Neuropathic pain was a
feature of 25% of cases, with pure somatic
referred pain presenting in 1 in 7 cases.
Nearly half of the patients were referred by
their usual general practitioner.
Differentiating pain types is important
in pain management. Neuropathic and
somatic referred pain are common
presentations to primary practice but
may be difficult to detect. Data on pain
presentation subtypes in primary practice
is important to inform medical educators
and research organisations and instruct
future planning for primary care.
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