Background: Individuals with persistent low back pain commonly have a broad range of other health concerns including co-occurring musculoskeletal pain, which significantly affect their quality of life, symptom severity, and treatment outcomes. The purpose of this review is to get a better understanding of prevalence and patterns of co-occurring musculoskeletal pain complaints in those with persistent low back pain and its potential association with age, sex, and back-related disability as it might affect prognosis and management. Methods: This systematic review protocol has been designed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocols. We will perform a comprehensive search, with no date limit, in the following bibliographic databases: MEDLINE and Embase (via Ovid), CINAHL, and Scopus for citation tracking, based on the following domains: back pain, co-occurring musculoskeletal pain, combined with a focus group that emphasizes study design. Appropriate papers will be screened against the eligibility criteria by three reviewers independently, data extracted by two independent author pairs and disagreement resolved by consensus meetings or other reviewers if required. Assessment of methodological quality and risk of bias will be conducted using a modified version of the Risk of Bias Tool for Prevalence Studies developed by Hoy and colleagues. The overall risk of bias will be determined for each included study based on the raters' consensus of the responses to the items in this tool. In case of sufficiently homogenous studies, meta-analysis will be performed. Discussion: Given the lack of standard terms used to define co-occurring musculoskeletal pain, the search strategy will include the broader term "back pain," different terms for the "other co-occurring pain," and specific study designs combined with several exclusion terms. The results of this proposed review will identify the prevalence and patterns of co-occurring musculoskeletal pain among those with persistent low back pain, which is likely to inform clinical management, research, and policy in management of musculoskeletal disorders. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42017068807.
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- Co-occurring musculoskeletal pain
- Persistent low back pain
- Systematic review protocol