Background: The purpose of this study is to assess the effects of lifestyle risk factors on the risk of hospitalization for sciatica and to determine whether overweight or obesity modifies the effect of leisure-time physical activity on hospitalization for sciatica.
Methods: We included 4 Finnish prospective cohort studies (Health 2000 Survey, Mobile Clinic Survey, Helsinki Health Study, and Young Finns Study) consisting of 34,589 participants and 1259 hospitalizations for sciatica during 12 to 30 years of follow-up. Sciatica was based on hospital discharge register data. We conducted a random-effects individual participant data meta-analysis.
Results: After adjustment for confounding factors, current smoking at baseline increased the risk of subsequent hospitalization for sciatica by 33% (95% confidence interval [CI], 13%-56%), whereas past smokers were no longer at increased risk. Obesity defined by body mass index increased the risk of hospitalization for sciatica by 36% (95% CI 7%-74%), and abdominal obesity defined by waist circumference increased the risk by 41% (95% CI 3%-93%). Walking or cycling to work reduced the risk of hospitalization for sciatica by 33% (95% CI 4%-53%), and the effect was independent of body weight and other leisure activities, while other types of leisure activities did not have a statistically significant effect.
Conclusions: Smoking and obesity increase the risk of hospitalization for sciatica, whereas walking or cycling to work protects against hospitalization for sciatica. Walking and cycling can be recommended for the prevention of sciatica in the general population.
Keywords: Exercise; Hospitalization; Obesity; Sciatica; Smoking.
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