Associations between serum lipid levels and chronic low back pain

Epidemiology. 2010 Nov;21(6):837-41. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181f20808.


Background: Low back pain may be related to abnormal lipid levels because of atherosclerosis in arteries supplying the lumbar region.

Methods: In the cross-sectional HUNT 2 study in the Norwegian county of Nord-Tr√łndelag, lipid levels were measured in 33,962 women and 30,031 men. A total of 8954 women (26%) and 6273 men (21%) reported suffering from low back pain continuously for at least 3 months in the past year.

Results: In age-adjusted analyses, the prevalence of low back pain was inversely associated with HDL cholesterol and positively associated with triglycerides, with stronger associations in women than in men. Relatively weak associations remained in women after adjustment for smoking, physical activity, education, work status, blood pressure, and body mass, but no associations remained among men. Total cholesterol levels were unrelated to low back pain in either sex after age adjustment.

Conclusions: The results are partly consistent with the atherosclerosis hypothesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / classification
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / blood*
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Triglycerides