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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Hussain 2017.

Fat mass and fat distribution are associated with low back pain intensity and disability: results from a cohort study

updated
Hussain SM, Urquhart DM, Wang Y, Shaw JE, Magliano DJ, Wluka AE, Cicuttini FM. Fat mass and fat distribution are associated with low back pain intensity and disability: results from a cohort study. Arthritis Res Ther. 2017 Feb;19(1):26. PubMed #28183360.
Tags: etiology, classics, back pain, pro, pain problems, spine

PainSci summary of Hussain 2017?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This important paper shows evidence of the metabolic roots of back pain, and perhaps other kinds of chronic pain as well. The majority (82%) of 5000 Australians reported back pain on a questionnaire, and in 27% of them it was bad enough to be disabling. When compared to their fat mass fat distribution — known indicators of metabolic disorders — a clear pattern emerged: back pain intensity and disability go up with measures of fat mass and distribution. This data does not suggest that weight is a “mechanical” problem — greater weight causing greater stress on spinal joints — but rather that “systemic metabolic factors associated with adiposity play a major role in the pathogenesis of LBP.”

Great example of what I mean when I say that we need to look beyond—way beyond—biomechanics to the messy “wet” factors in chronic pain.

original abstract

BACKGROUND: Determining the association between body composition and low back pain (LBP) will improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which obesity affects LBP, and inform novel approaches to managing LBP. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between body composition and LBP intensity and disability.

METHODS: A total of 5058 participants (44% men) of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study were assessed for LBP intensity and disability using the Chronic Pain Grade Questionnaire (2013-2014). Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were directly obtained. Fat mass and percentage fat were estimated from bioelectrical impedance analysis at study inception (1999-2000).

RESULTS: Eighty-two percent of participants reported LBP, of whom 27% also reported LBP disability. BMI, waist circumference, percent fat, and fat mass were each positively associated with LBP intensity and disability at 12 years after adjustment for potential confounders. LBP intensity and disability showed significant dose-responses to sex-specific quartiles of BMI, waist circumference, percent fat and fat mass. For example, the adjusted OR for LBP intensity in women increased with increasing fat mass quartiles [Q1: 1, Q2: 1.05 (95%CI 0.84-1.32); Q3: 1.25 (1.00-1.57); and Q4: 1.78 (1.42-2.24); p < 0.001].

CONCLUSIONS: Fat mass and distribution are associated with LBP intensity and disability, suggesting systemic metabolic factors associated with adiposity play a major role in the pathogenesis of LBP. Clarifying the mechanisms will facilitate developing novel preventive and therapeutic approaches for LBP.

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This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog.