Wimbledon Clinics

Wimbledon Clinics

Understanding What Triggers Low Back Pain

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A new study has examined the physical and psychosocial factors that significantly increase the risk of low back pain suddenly occurring. This is important because the more we understand about what triggers low back pain, the more we can do to prevent it.

The study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, shows that people engaged in manual tasks that involve awkward positions increase the risk of low back pain by eight times. There is also a significantly greater risk for those who are distracted or fatigued during activities.

The research was carried out in Sydney, Australia, and involved 999 subjects who experienced a new episode of acute low back pain between October 2011 and November 2012. Each participant was asked to report their exposure to 12 putative triggers over the 96 hours preceding the onset of back pain. After this information was obtained, the researchers used conditional logistic regression to estimate odds ratios showing the magnitude of increased risk with exposure to each trigger.

Results showed that exposure to a range of physical and psychosocial triggers significantly increased the risk of a new onset of low back pain. Odds ratios ranged from 2.7 (moderate or vigorous physical activity) to 25.0 (distracted during an activity or task).

It was also found that the risk of developing back pain was greatest between 7am and noon.

This is the first study to examine brief exposure to a range of modifiable triggers for an acute episode of low back pain, according to Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, Ph.D., from the George Institute for Global Health and Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

“Understanding which risk factors contribute to back pain and controlling exposure to these risks is an important first step in prevention,” Ferreira said.