Our Musculoskeletal Special Interest Group is able to investigate areas of human musculoskeletal health and disorders. The group has a range of measures on our participants relating to neuromuscular development, hypermobility assessment, motor control, posture, strength, pain (back, knee, hip, arm, leg and shoulder), pain sensitivity (cold and pressure), and musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. arthritis) across different ages and generations within the Raine Study.

SIG Leaders:

Dr Rob Waller, Curtin University

A/Prof Peter Kent, Curtin University

Key findings over the last 30 years have included:

Using information collected from the Raine Study participants, researchers found patterns of low back pain from adolescence to early adulthood that provide novel information on the impact low back pain during this transition period. Researchers were able to show that low back pain has a multidimensional nature (i.e. influenced by multiple different factors) and has a substantial impact for some adolescents. Also, spinal pain and mental ill-health combines were related to increased absence from work among young adults. Additionally researchers showed that young women with moderate or severe menstrual pain have increased pain sensitivity.

Patterns of low back pain were found, which provide unique information on low back pain and its impact during the transitions from adolescence to early adulthood.

  • Coenen P, Smith A, Paananen M, O’Sullivan P, Beales D, Straker L. Trajectories of Low Back Pain From Adolescence to Young Adulthood. Arthritis Care & Research. 2017;69(3):403-412

 Low back pain is influenced by multiple factors, has substantial impact for some individuals at age 17, including missing school and reduced activity participation.  

  • O’Sullivan PB, Beales DJ, Smith AJ, Straker LM. Low back pain in 17 year olds has substantial impact and represents an important public health disorder: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2012;12(1):100.
  • Smith A, Beales D, O’Sullivan P, Bear N, Straker L. Low Back Pain With Impact at 17 Years of Age Is Predicted by Early Adolescent Risk Factors From Multiple Domains: Analysis of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2017;47(10):752-762
  • O’Sullivan P, Smith A, Beales D, Straker L. Understanding Adolescent Low Back Pain From a Multidimensional Perspective: Implications for Management. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2017;47(10):741-751.

Comorbidity (ie two conditions occurring at once) of spinal pain and mental ill-health is associated with increased absence from work at 22 years of age, but not reduced productivity while at work.  

  • Beales D, Kyaw-Myint S, Smith A, O’Sullivan P, Pransky G, Linton S, et al. Work Productivity Loss in Young Workers Is Substantial and Is Associated With Spinal Pain and Mental Ill-health Conditions. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2017;59(3):237-45.

Cervical spine posture at 17 is not associated with neck pain or headaches.  

  • Richards KV, Beales DJ, Smith AJ, O’Sullivan PB, Straker LM. Neck Posture Clusters and Their Association with Biopsychosocial Factors and Neck Pain in Australian Adolescents. Physical Therapy. 2016;96(10):1576-87.

Women with moderate or severe menstrual pain (age 20 and 22) have increased pain sensitivity, with indications of both peripheral and central neurophysiological mechanisms.    

  • Slater H, Paananen M, Smith AJ, O’Sullivan P, Briggs AM, Hickey M, Mountain J, Karppinen J, Beales, D. Heightened cold pain and pressure pain sensitivity in young female adults with moderate-to-severe menstrual pain. Pain.2015;156(12):2468-78.


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