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Moderate or severe low back pain is associated with body mass index amongst community-dwelling older Australians

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 17:33 authored by Gilmartin-Thomas, JFM, Cicuttini, FM, Owen, AJ, Wolfe, R, Ernst, ME, Mark NelsonMark Nelson, Lockery, J, Woods, RL, Britt, C, Liew, D, Murray, A, Workman, B, Ward, SA, McNeil, JJ
Objective: Low back pain is prevalent in older populations and modifiable risk factors may include being overweight or obese. This study aimed to describe the prevalence and impact of moderate or severe low back pain in community-dwelling older adults and its association with body mass index (BMI).

Methods: Cross-sectional study involving 16,439 Australians aged ≥70 years. Logistic regression was used to describe associations between the presence or absence of moderate or severe low back pain experienced on most days with BMI. Analyses were conducted separately for males and females, and controlled for age and depression at baseline.

Results: Of 14,155 pain question respondents, 11 % of males (n = 710/6475) and 18 % of females (n = 1391/7680) reported moderate or severe low back pain (total 15 %, n = 2101/14,155). Of those reporting moderate or severe low back pain (n = 2101), 55 % reported taking pain-relieving medication regularly, and 29 % reported that the pain regularly interfered with sleep, 37 % with walking, and 47 % with day to day activities. When age and depression were controlled for, there was a statistically significant (p < 0.001) association between moderate or severe low back pain and being overweight (females: odds ratio OR = 1.50, 95 % confidence interval CI = 1.27-1.76) or obese (males: OR = 2.23, 95 %CI = 1.77-2.80 and females: OR = 2.91, 95 %CI = 2.48-3.42).

Conclusion: Moderate or severe low back pain is common, has a significant impact, and is associated with either an overweight or obese BMI among community-dwelling Australians aged ≥70 years.


Publication title

Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics



Article number









Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Elsevier Sci Ireland Ltd

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Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Health related to ageing

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