A longitudinal study of the influence of comorbidities and lifestyle factors on low back pain in older men

11 June 2020

Older adults are largely under-represented in low back pain (LBP) research. In light of the ageing population, it is crucial to understand the influence of comorbidities and lifestyle factors on the risk and prognosis of LBP in older adults. The aims of this study were to describe the course of LBP in older men; to investigate whether comorbidities/lifestyle factors can predict the course of LBP in older men; to assess if comorbidities/lifestyle factors increase the risk of developing LBP in older men. The study sample comprised 1685 older men living in suburban Sydney, Australia. Low back pain, sociodemographic measures, lifestyle factors, and comorbidities were assessed. Of the 1012 men with LBP at baseline, 58% still reported having pain at the 24-month follow-up. Of those without pain at baseline (n = 673), 28% reported pain at follow-up. The odds of persistent pain at 24 months increased with each additional alcoholic drink/wk (odds ratio [OR] = 1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.01-1.22; P = 0.03) and each additional unit of body mass index (OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.04-1.60; P = 0.02), but reduced for men who speak English at home (OR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.35-0.96; P = 0.03). In older men, free of LBP at baseline (n = 673), for every additional comorbidity there was an increased risk of developing LBP (OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.00-1.37; P = 0.05). These results demonstrate the influence of lifestyle factors and comorbidities on LBP in older men and suggest that the consideration of these issues in management may improve outcomes.