Background: The long-term consequences of chronic pain and/or stiffness from the musculoskeletal system (musculoskeletal complaints: MSCs) have not been well explored. The aims of this study were to investigate whether MSCs reported at baseline influence all-cause and cause-specific mortality during 21 years follow-up of a general Northern Norwegian adult population. Methods: A total of 26,977 men and women aged 25-97 years who participated in the 1994-1995 survey of the Tromsø study (response rate 77%) were included in the present prospective cohort study. Baseline data were collected from the 1994-1995 survey and information on death and emigration was taken from the National Register of Norway. Cox regression analyses were performed to examine if MSCs predicted risk of mortality. Results: 5693 (21.1%) participants died during follow-up. Mean time between entry into the survey and death or emigration was 18.6 years (standard deviation 4.87) for all-cause mortality. There was an increased risk of death among those with MSCs at baseline in the crude Cox regression model. However, the multivariable model revealed no significant association between MSCs at baseline and all-cause mortality by sex (women: hazard ratio [HR] = 0.93, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.85-1.01; men: HR = 0.93, 95%CI: 0.85-1.01). Furthermore, no significant associations were found between widespread MSCs at baseline and all-cause mortality in multivariable models (women: HR = 0.90, 95%CI: 0.80-1.01; men HR = 0.87, 95%CI: 0.76-1.00). Analyses on cause-specific mortality did not reveal any significant results. Conclusion: MSCs are not independently associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or death from all causes.
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