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Relative Abdominal Adiposity Is Associated With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Preliminary Explorative Study


Relative Abdominal Adiposity Is Associated With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Preliminary Explorative Study

Cristy Brooks et al. BMC Public Health.


Background: Although previous research suggests a relationship between chronic low back pain (cLBP) and adiposity, this relationship is poorly understood. No research has explored the relationship between abdominal-specific subcutaneous and visceral adiposity with pain and disability in cLBP individuals. The aim of this study therefore was to examine the relationship of regional and total body adiposity to pain and disability in cLBP individuals.

Methods: A preliminary explorative study design of seventy (n = 70) adult men and women with cLBP was employed. Anthropometric and adiposity measures were collected, including body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, total body adiposity and specific ultrasound-based abdominal adiposity measurements. Self-reported pain and disability were measured using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) questionnaires respectively. Relationships between anthropometric and adiposity measures with pain and disability were assessed using correlation and regression analyses.

Results: Significant correlations between abdominal to lumbar adiposity ratio (A-L) variables and the waist-to-hip ratio with self-reported pain were observed. A-L variables were found to predict pain, with 9.1-30.5 % of the variance in pain across the three analysis models explained by these variables. No relationships between anthropometric or adiposity variables to self-reported disability were identified.

Conclusions: The findings of this study indicated that regional distribution of adiposity via the A-L is associated with cLBP, providing a rationale for future research on adiposity and cLBP.

Keywords: Abdominal adiposity; Chronic low back pain; Disability; Obesity; Pain; Ultrasound.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Examples of abdominal US measurements (i) minimum subcutaneous abdominal adiposity (ii) maximum pre-peritoneal abdominal adiposity (iii) maximum subcutaneous abdominal adiposity A (iv) maximum subcutaneous abdominal adiposity B
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Examples of intra-abdominal, supra-iliac and lumbar US measurements (v) maximum intra-abdominal adiposity (vi) maximum subcutaneous supra-iliac adiposity (vii) maximum subcutaneous lumbar adiposity

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