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Chronic lower back pain may be associated with earlier death

Created date

December 13th, 2018
While back pain may not seem as dangerous as heart disease or cancer, a team of researchers from Boston Medical Center have now found that frequent and persistent back pain can cause earlier death among women.

While back pain may not seem as dangerous as heart disease or cancer, a team of researchers from Boston Medical Center have now found that frequent and persistent back pain can cause earlier death among women.

Back pain is the number one reason for disability worldwide. It is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 80, and women also report their pain as being more frequent and debilitating than men with back pain. 

While back pain may not seem as dangerous as heart disease or cancer, a team of researchers from Boston Medical Center have now found that frequent and persistent back pain can cause earlier death among women.

Long-range study

Researchers gathered data from over 8,000 women over an average of 14 years. They measured baseline levels of back pain among study subjects, and then continued to follow up asking them about their level of pain and whether it interfered with daily activities. Throughout the study, the subjects were also intermittently observed performing daily routines, such as walking short distances or preparing meals.

At the end of the study, the data showed that women with frequent, persistent back pain had a 24% increased risk of death compared to women without back pain. The researchers also observed that the disability associated with the pain may be a main factor for the early mortality: For example, the inability to exercise or eat a nutritious diet can result in the development or worsening of chronic medical conditions.

The researchers say their results could lead to future studies about better management of back pain and help determine if treatment over someone’s lifespan could result in less disability and a longer and better quality of life.

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