Musculoskeletal disorders in children: a study in Dutch general practice

A S Vijlbrief, M A Bruijnzeels, J C van der Wouden, L W van Suijlekom-Smit

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OBJECTIVE: This study focuses on the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders in children presented in general practice. Known epidemiological studies addressing musculoskeletal diseases in childhood are scarce and based on a low number of episodes.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Prospective study of all patient contacts in general practice. A total number of 161 general practitioners participated, divided into four groups, registering during four consecutive three-month periods.

PATIENTS: All children younger than 15 years of age who visited their GP during the registration period. All diagnoses and working hypotheses concerning musculoskeletal disorders were selected.

RESULTS: The total number of children in the study was 64,198. Disorders of the musculoskeletal system accounted for 3,699 (7.5%) of all 49,309 contacts and for 3,046 (7.5%) of all 40,340 episodes. Of the 3,046 episodes registered for ICPC-chapter L (musculoskeletal), 2,562 (84%) were new episodes, i.e. not presented to the GP before. Fifty-four percent of all new episodes were acute injuries. In 22% of the new episodes the general practitioner made a symptom diagnosis. Differences by age and sex were found for a limited number of diagnosis categories.

CONCLUSION: Children present disorders of the musculoskeletal system less often than adults; they also present different disorders to their general practitioners. The majority of disorders presented by children are acute injuries, mostly sprains and strains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-11
Number of pages7
JournalScandinavian journal of primary health care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Arm Injuries/epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone/epidemiology
  • Hip Dislocation, Congenital/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases/epidemiology
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sprains and Strains/epidemiology

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