Study design: Longitudinal study of lumbar bone mass as predictor of low back pain (LBP).
Objective: To investigate whether low bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) values at the age of 36 years are associated with the prevalence of LBP at the age of 42 years among the study population of the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study.
Summary of background data: Results of epidemiological, clinical, and in vitro studies indicate that spinal injuries, caused by mechanical loading, might be a cause of LBP. BMC and BMD are determinants of spinal strength. We therefore hypothesized that BMC and BMD are associated with LBP.
Methods: At the age of 36 years, the lumbar BMC and BMD were determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry in 140 men and 152 women. At the age of 42 years, the participants were asked whether they had experienced LBP in the previous 12 months. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine odds ratios (ORs)-adjusted for stature, body weight, physical activity, and smoking-for the relationship of BMC and BMD with LBP.
Results: BMC and BMD at the age of 36 years were significantly associated with the reported 12-month prevalence of LBP at the age of 42 years. This association, however, was observed only for men and not for women. Men within the quartile with the lowest BMC or BMD values had higher odds for LBP with ORs of 4.78 (95% confidence interval, 1.52-15.00) and 3.48 (95% confidence interval, 1.23-9.85), respectively.
Conclusion: For a male population that is not characterized by osteoporosis or old age, lower lumbar BMC and BMD values at the age of 36 years are associated with an increased risk of reporting to have had LBP in the previous 12 months at the age of 42 years.