Authors of a new study say that public health efforts to reduce smoking, alcohol use, obesity, physical inactivity, and irregular sleep may also pay off in reducing the prevalence of low back pain (LBP).
In an article e-published ahead of print in Spine (abstract only available for free), researchers shared findings from what they believe is the first study to document the association between behavior-related factors and LBP in US adults. Authors gathered data from a series of cross-sectional surveys pulled from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a population that featured adults between the ages of 18 and 85, with a population size totaling 122,337.
When authors cross-referenced individuals with LBP with various behaviors, they found some telling connections. Among them:
- The prevalence of LBP was highest in those who were inactive.
- Among tobacco users, current regular smokers experienced the most frequent rate of LBP.
- For alcohol consumers, former regular drinkers had the highest rate of LBP.
- In terms of sleep patterns, females who slept 3 to 4 hours per night had the highest prevalence of LBP.
- In regard to weight, females who were obese experienced increased prevalence of LBP.
Because the behavior-related factors in this study are considered critical not only for LBP, but for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, the authors recommend that clinicians consider the findings of this study when counseling patients on an array of issues. And from a public health perspective, authors believe that attempts to reduce unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and inactivity "hold the potential to reduce the burden of [LBP]."
Although they write that it is still unclear whether the behaviors they studied are risk factors, comorbidities, or "prognostic factors," for LBP, they characterize their study results "far reaching" and call for more research on possible connections.
Authors estimate that in the US, 28.6% (66 million) of the total adult population suffers from LBP.
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