Prevalence and correlates of low back pain in primary care: what are the contributing factors in a rapidly developing country

Asian Spine J. 2014 Jun;8(3):227-36. doi: 10.4184/asj.2014.8.3.227. Epub 2014 Jun 9.


Study design: Cross-sectional.

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) in the primary care setting with emphasis on the socio-demographic contributing factors and impact of LBP on lifestyle habits.

Overview of literature: LBP is one of the most common medical conditions seen in the Primary Health Care Clinic.

Methods: A representative sample of 2,600 patients were approached and 1,829 subjects agreed to participate in this study (70.0%). Data on socio-demographic characteristics, life style habits and type of treatment were collected through a questionnaire.

Results: The prevalence of LBP in the study sample was 56.5% (95% confidence interval, 54.2-58.8). LBP was more prevalent among women (53.9%) compared to men (46.1%). There was significant difference between male and female patients of LBP in terms of ethnicity (p<0.001), marital status (p=0.010), occupation (p<0.001), monthly household income (p=0.004), and cigarette/sheesha smokers (p<0.001). The percentages of different aspects of functional disabilities were statistically significantly higher among females compared to male patients with LBP. Almost a quarter of female patients with LBP (26%) and 18% male patients with LBP reported pain in the arms and legs (p=0.002). In addition, gastrointestinal complaints such as abdominal pain and food intolerance were significantly higher among female patients with LBP as compared to males (31% vs. 24.6%, p=0.018; and 25% vs. 18%, p=0.008, respectively). Complaints about headache and fainting were also significantly higher among female patients as compared to male LBP patients (43% vs. 36%, p=0.029; and 26% vs. 20%, p=0.016, respectively). The multivariate logistic regression revealed that being female, prolonged standing, prolonged sitting, heavy weight lifting, weakness in the legs, regular exercise, and cigarette/sheesh a smoking had a significant effect on the presence of LBP.

Conclusions: LBP is highly prevalent among both genders and in older age. Also, weakness in the legs, smoking, prolonged standing and sitting had a significant effect on LBP. Furthermore, the current study findings support the fact that LBP continues to be an important clinical, social and economic, burden and a public health problem affecting the population of the entire world.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Life-style habits; Low back pain; Primary health care; Risk factors; Roland-Morris disability.