What's Triggering That Back Pain?

   |  Updated: February 09, 2015 20:36 IST

What's Triggering That Back Pain?

In a first-of-its-kind study, a group of Australian reaserchers have found what may be behind those excruciating back pains. "Our study is the first to examine brief exposure to a range of modifiable triggers for an acute episode of lower back pain," said Associate Professor, Manuela Ferreira, The George Institute for Global Health and Sydney Medical School at The University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

The study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research and mentioned that engagement in manual tasks involving awkward positions can increase the risk of lower back pain by eight times. Also, those who are distracted during activities or get fatigued are significantly exposed to an increased risk of acute lower back pain.

For the study, scientists recruited 999 participants from 300 primary care clinics in Sydney who had an acute lower back pain episode between October 2011 and November 2012. The participants were asked to report exposure to 12 physical or psychosocial factors in 96 hours prior to the onset of back pain.

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The risk of a new episode of lower back pain significantly increased due to a range of triggers, from an odds ratio of 2.7 for moderate to vigorous physical activity to 25.0 for distraction during an activity. Researchers found that age moderated the effect of exposure to heavy loads. With an increase in age, the level of distraction lessened with odds ratio for individuals ageing 20, 40, or 60 years being at 13.6, 6.0, and 2.7, respectively. Another recent study suggested risks of back pain being highest between 7:00 am and noon.


At some point, nearly 10 per cent of the world's population experience back pain, which is the leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organisation's Global Burden of Disease report (2010).


WHO reports that lower back pain has a greater impact on global health than malaria, diabetes, or lung cancer; yet little progress has been made to identify effective prevention strategies.

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Tags:  Pain