Prevalence of Orthopaedic Maladies in People Who Flyfish: An Internet-Based Survey

Keith Robert Berend, MD


J South Orthop Assoc. 2001;10(4) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

In this study, we define the prevalence of back and joint pains in people who flyfish. We use the Internet as a source of data. Requests for participation were posted on flyfishing Web sites. Eighty-nine people were surveyed (E-mail group). A control group of 42 flyfishing club members participated (Club group). Epidemiologic information, flyfishing data, and location of pain were collected. Low back pain in the 131 participants was 59%. No differences between the two groups in location or prevalence were noted. Saltwater fishermen had the highest rates of shoulder and elbow pain (31%). Trout fishermen had the highest rate of wrist pain (31%). Warmwater anglers had the least leg (12%), elbow (12%), and shoulder pain (18%). These afflictions mirror reports for other recreational activities. Low back pain was the most prevalent complaint, followed by wrist/hand and shoulder. Flyfishing subtypes have different rates and locations of pain, explained by equipment and technique. This report defines use of the Internet as a data source for research.

Over the past decade, the sport of flyfishing has become more popular than ever. With increasing frequency, conditions such as "flyfishing elbow," "stooper's back," and "caster's shoulder" are being seen and treated in the orthopaedist's office.

Previous studies have outlined the prevalence of shoulder pain in swimmers and tennis players.1,2 Others have investigated elbow injuries in athletes such as golfers, tennis players, and those in overhead sports.3-9 Additionally, there is a myriad of information about the prevalence and incidence of low back pain in various epidemiologic groups. Low back pain has been studied in military recruits, thought to be high-level athletes by virtue of their occupation.10 Back pain in tennis players, leisure-time sportsmen, golfers, and several series of athletes in general are reported in the literature.11-16 Wrist pain and knee pain in paddle canoeists and cyclists are also among the afflictions described in the literature.17,18 To date, however, no reports exist on the prevalence of these types of problems in people who spend their leisure time in pursuit of fish on the flyrod.

The primary purpose of this study is to define the prevalence of back and joint pain in people who flyfish. Second, the study aims to demonstrate, for the first time, the use of the Internet as a tool to gather data for use in orthopaedic research.


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