Strong Link Found Between Back Pain And Mortality

A prospective analysis of back pain and rates of disability may help explain the association between back pain and mortality

It is also a major cause of disability and missed work days.

Risk factors such as posture, sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, obesity, and age can all contribute to the development of this condition.

Measuring the effects of back pain
Researchers from Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts were interested in knowing more about the effects of back pain in women, given the higher prevalence of this condition among women aged 40–80 years, compared with men.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first to measure disability after measurement of back pain. This allowed for a prospective analysis of back pain that persisted over time and later rates of disability, which may help explain the association between back pain and mortality.

Higher mortality risk
The results of the new study show that there may be a strong link between back pain and mortality. Though the reasons behind this association remain unclear, researchers believe that other factors connected to back pain may contribute to an earlier death.

“Back pain may directly impair daily activities, but older adults could inappropriately avoid them due to fear of re-injury or worsening of symptoms. Being unable to perform, or avoiding, daily activities could lead to weight gain, development or progression of other chronic health conditions, and ultimately earlier death.

The older population is increasing worldwide. Around 8 percent of people are aged 65 and over, and estimates suggest that this number will grow to nearly 17 percent by 2050.

In light of these statistics, optimizing physical health to extend life for older adults is becoming a priority for public health institutions and research.

“Our findings raise the question of whether better management of back pain across the lifespan could prevent disability, improve quality of life, and ultimately extend life,” concludes Roseen.

More research is needed to assess the long-term effects of back pain, but these findings pave the way for future studies that aim to find better treatments, guidelines, and strategies to address this condition.

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