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New-Onset Sciatica Could Be Prevented Through Obesity Management

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Age and obesity appear to play a significant part in the development of sciatica among workers with no history of the condition, Japanese researchers have established. While age is a factor beyond control, management of obesity could help prevent such a development, according to the study report published in the Spine journal.

Led by Dr Ko Matsudaira of the Kanto Rosai Hospital in Kawasaki, the research team set out to identify risk factors for people without any history of sciatica. As part of a two-year study of occupational-related back pain, Matsudaira and his colleagues aimed to clarify the impact of psychosocial factors on the development of sciatica. While previous studies have established a link between new-onset sciatica and individual and occupational factors, little is known about the effect of psychosocial factors.

At the start, 5,310 workers completed a self-administered baseline questionnaire in which individual characteristics, ergonomic work demands and work-related psychosocial factors were in the focus of assessment. One and two years after that, 3,194 subjects completed follow-up questionnaires, with researchers looking out for reports of new-onset sciatica, either with or without low back pain.

Among the 765 eligible participants, 18.4% were found to have developed sciatica in the two years following the start of the study. For those 141 individuals, age and obesity were generally seen as contributing to the development of the condition. The analysis adjusted for age and sex indicated that obesity and mental workload remained significant risk factors for new-onset sciatica. Age and obesity were also found to be serious contributors when a multivariate analysis was carried out.