Comorbid subjective health complaints in low back pain

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006 Jun 1;31(13):1491-5. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000219947.71168.08.


Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Objectives: To compare subjective health complaints in subacute patients with low back pain with reference values from a Norwegian normal population.

Summary of background data: Comorbidity is common with nonspecific low back pain. We wanted to investigate if these complaints were specific or part of a more general unspecific condition comparable to subjective health complaints in the normal population.

Materials and methods: The study group consisted of 457 patients sick-listed 8 to 12 weeks for low back pain. All subjects filled out questionnaires. The subjective health complaints in the study group were compared with reference values from a Norwegian normal population using logistic regression analysis.

Results: Compared with the normal reference population, the patients with low back pain had significantly more low back pain, neck pain, upper back pain, pain in the feet during exercise, headache, migraine, sleep problems, flushes/heat sensations, anxiety, and sadness/depression. The prevalence of pain in arms, pain in shoulders, and tiredness was also high, but not significantly higher than in the reference population.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that patients with low back pain suffer from what may be referred to as a "syndrome," consisting of muscle pain located to the whole spine as well as to legs and head, and accompanying sleep problems, anxiety, and sadness/depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires