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Elevated BMI Hikes Risk Of Chronic Low Back Pain

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High Body Mass Index (BMI) increases the risk of chronic low back pain at a later stage, a new study from Norway reveals.

Researchers led by Ingrid Heuch from Oslo University Hospital examined data from the community-based HUNT 2 (1995 to 1997) and HUNT 3 (2006 to 2008) studies of an entire Norwegian county.

The population-based prospective cohort study encompassed 8,733 men and 10,149 women aged 30 to 69 without chronic low back pain at baseline, and 2,669 men and 3,899 women with chronic low back pain at baseline. The participants were assessed for chronic low back pain after 11 years. Chronic low back pain was defined as pain persisting for three or more months continuously during the last year.

The results showed that higher BMI was associated with higher risk of chronic low back pain for participants without this disabling disorder at baseline. The odds ratio for chronic low back pain for BMI of 30 or more versus BMI of less than 25 was 1.34 for men and 1.22 for women, when adjusting for age, education, work status, smoking, blood pressure and other factors.

The study, published in the 15 January issue of Spine, also established a significant positive association between BMI and recurrence of low back pain among women.

High BMI levels may predispose people to chronic low back pain 11 years later, both in individuals with or without low back pain, the authors concluded.