Healthy lifestyle behaviour influence the prognosis of low back pain

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Objectives 

To study the influence of healthy lifestyle behaviour on the prognosis of occasional low back pain among men and women in a general population.

Design Cohort study with a 4-year follow-up.

Settings General population in Stockholm County, Sweden.

Participants The study sample comprised 3938 men and 5056 women aged 18–84 from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort reporting occasional low back pain in the baseline questionnaire 2006.

Measures Lifestyle factors and potential confounders were assessed at baseline. The lifestyle factors smoking habits, alcohol consumption, leisure physical activity and consumption of fruit and vegetables were dichotomised using recommendations for a health-enhancing lifestyle and combined to form the exposure variable ‘healthy lifestyle behaviour’. The exposure was categorised into five levels according to the number of healthy lifestyle factors met. The follow-up questionnaire in 2010 gave information about the outcome, long duration troublesome low back pain. Crude and adjusted binomial regression models were applied to estimate the association between the exposure and the outcome analysing men and women separately.

Results The risk of developing long duration troublesome low back pain among women with occasional low back pain decreased with increasing healthy lifestyle behaviour (trend test: p=0.006). 21% (28/131) among women with no healthy lifestyle factor (reference) experienced the outcome compared to 9% (36/420) among women with all four factors. Compared to the reference group, the risk was reduced by 35% (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.96) for women with one healthy lifestyle factor and 52% (RR 0.48, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.77) for women with all four healthy lifestyle factors. There were no clear associations found among men.

Conclusions Healthy lifestyle behaviour seems to decrease the risk of developing long duration troublesome low back pain among women with occasional low back pain and may be recommended to improve the prognosis.

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