In a new study from Boston Medical Center, researchers found a higher mortality risk for women with back pain when compared to women without back pain. Back pain was not linked to mortality among men.
The overall findings suggest that mild back pain is unlikely to impact the length of one’s life, but the risk of mortality was increased among adults with more severe back pain.
Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and disability and inactivity are generally associated with greater mortality.
More than 80% of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, and older women are more likely to experience activity-limiting back pain.
In the study, the team did a meta-analysis of all-cause mortality in 11 studies with 81,337 middle-aged and older adults.
Age did not appear to have an effect on the association between back pain and mortality.
The highest risk of mortality linked to back pain was observed in studies that only included women and those that identified adults with more severe back pain.
Back pain could cause limitations in activities of daily living, and reduced physical activity that may lead to weight gain and the development or worsening of chronic conditions such as heart disease.
Back pain has also been linked to poor balance and falls, which can result in fragility fractures. Such fractures are in turn associated with increased mortality.
Nonpharmacologic treatments recommended for treating back pain include acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and physical therapy.
There is evidence that these treatments are effective for managing back pain and they are considered safe. Some treatments are known to have potentially serious side effects, such as opioids for pain management.
Countless Americans have died as a result of the opioid epidemic, and low back pain is among the most common reasons why opioids are prescribed.
The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention released a report this week highlighting the continued impact of the epidemic with 87,000 Americans dying of an overdose in the past year (ending September 2020), the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded.
The team hopes this study will lead to a better understanding of the long-term impacts of activity-limiting back pain on overall health.
If you care about pain management, please read studies about this popular pain drug may hurt your blood sugar levels and findings of why heart drug statins give muscle pain.
For more information about pain and wellness, please see recent studies about if you take opioids for chronic pain, you may find it hard to find primary care and results showing that a new way to treat chronic neuropathic pain.
The study is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. One author of the study is Eric Roseen, DC, MSc.
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