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Causal assessment of occupational standing or walking and low back pain: results of a systematic review

updated
Roffey DM, Wai EK, Bishop P, Kwon BK, Dagenais S. Causal assessment of occupational standing or walking and low back pain: results of a systematic review. Spine J. 2010 Mar;10(3):262–72. PubMed #20207335.
Tags: etiology, back pain, biomechanics, pro, pain problems, spine

PainSci summary of Roffey 2010?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.

Standing and walking probably don’t cause back pain, according to moderate to strong evidence from 18 studies, seven of them high quality. Although still possible, “it is unlikely that occupational standing or walking is independently causative of LBP in the populations of workers studied.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Low back pain (LBP) is a widespread musculoskeletal condition that frequently occurs in the working-age population. Numerous occupational physical activities have been implicated in its etiology.

PURPOSE: To conduct a systematic review establishing a causal relationship between occupational standing or walking and LBP.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of the literature.

SAMPLE: Studies reporting an association between occupational standing or walking and LBP.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Numerical association between exposure to standing or walking and the presence of LBP.

METHODS: A systematic review was performed to identify, evaluate, and summarize the literature related to establishing a causal relationship, according to Bradford-Hill criteria for causality, between occupational standing or walking and LBP. A search was conducted using MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, and Occupational Safety and Health database, gray literature, hand-searching occupational health journals, reference lists of included studies, and expert knowledge. Evaluation of methodological quality was performed using a modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

RESULTS: This search yielded 2,766 citations. Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Five were high-quality studies related to standing, and two were high-quality studies related to walking. For occupational standing and LBP, there was moderate to strong evidence against the association criterion, the only study examining dose response did not support this criterion, four studies examining temporality failed to support this criterion, and only one study discussed the biological plausibility criterion. For occupational walking and LBP, there was moderate evidence against a causal relationship with respect to the association, temporality, dose response, and biological plausibility criteria. No studies assessed the experiment criterion for these activities.

CONCLUSIONS: A summary of existing studies was not able to find any high-quality studies that satisfied more than two of the Bradford-Hill causation criteria for occupational standing or walking and LBP. Based on the evidence reviewed, it is unlikely that occupational standing or walking is independently causative of LBP in the populations of workers studied.

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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.