Addressing Modifiable Risk Factors May Help Reduce Low Back Pain

Obesity, sleep, physical activity and psychological pathology can have an impact on a patient’s degree of low back pain, according to a speaker at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Annual Meeting. Scott Haldeman, MD, PhD, DC, presented the findings of a study highlighting several potentially modifiable risk factors in patients that could have a direct effect on low back pain.

“Public health policies aimed at reducing smoking, excessive alcohol use, obesity, sleep deprivation and mental stress, and increasing leisure time activity might be beneficial in improving a prognosis or reducing the prevalence of low back pain and the associated costs in the adult population of the United States,” Haldeman said at the meeting.

Haldeman and colleagues used data from the 2009 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey, with low back pain being defined as non-specific low back pain in the past 3 months. The analysis included 122,345 adults between the ages of 18 years and 85 years.

Compared with those who were less active, individuals who participated in leisure time activity were less likely to experience low back pain. Obese individuals with a BMI of greater than 30 were more likely to have low back pain, as were those who slept only 3 hours to 4 hours per night.

“If we look at the odds ratios, we find regularly active people have a negative odds ratio. Serious psychological pathology has a more positive ratio and likelihood of causing a relationship with these data,” Haldeman said. “If we look at hours of sleep, 3 to 4 hours of sleep has a marked 2.82 odds ratio, but, if you have 9 or more hours of sleep, you have a positive odds ratio.”

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