OBJECTIVES--To study the prevalences of musculoskeletal disorders and disability in the elderly, and the relationship between them. METHODS--A community sample of 73 females and 32 males aged 85 and over underwent a standardised examination at home. Musculoskeletal disorders were classified according to published clinical criteria. The relative effects on disability (a walking distance of < 500 m or dependency in activities of daily living (ADL)) of musculoskeletal disorders and comorbidity were analysed by logistic regression. RESULTS--Musculoskeletal pain was reported by 57% of those interviewed. A major restriction of joint movement range was frequent in the shoulder but uncommon in other joints. A shoulder disorder was found in 27% of subjects, rheumatoid arthritis in 1% and osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand, hip, and knee in five, seven, and 18% of subjects, respectively. Disability was frequent: a walking distance of < 500 m was found in 60% and ADL dependency in 40% of the group. Factors related to one or both of these disability measures included female gender, hip and knee OA, impaired vision, cognitive impairment and neurological disease. CONCLUSION--Musculoskeletal pain and disorders, in addition to disability were frequent in this very elderly population. However, as a cause of disability, other disorders were at least as important as musculoskeletal disorders.
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