Awkward positions, distractions and fatigue may trigger low back pain, a first-of-its-kind study has warned.
Being engaged in manual tasks involving awkward positions can increase the risk of low back pain by eight times, Australian researchers have found.
Those who are distracted during activities or fatigued also significantly increase their risk of acute low back pain, researchers said.
“Our study is the first to examine brief exposure to a range of modifiable triggers for an acute episode of low back pain,” said Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira, with The George Institute for Global Health and Sydney Medical School at The University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.
In the study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, scientists recruited 999 participants from 300 primary care clinics in Sydney who had an acute low back pain episode between October 2011 and November 2012.
Study subjects were asked to report exposure to 12 physical or psychosocial factors in the 96 hours prior to the onset of back pain.
The risk of a new episode of low back pain significantly increased due to a range of triggers, from an odds ratio of 2.7 for moderate to vigorous physical activity to 25.0 for distraction during an activity.
Researchers found that age moderated the effect of exposure to heavy loads, with odds ratio for individuals 20, 40, or 60 years of age at 13.6, 6.0, and 2.7, respectively. A new finding not reported previously was that back pain risk was highest between 7:00 am and noon.
At some point, nearly 10 per cent of the world’s population experience back pain, which is the leading cause of disability, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Burden of Disease report (2010).
WHO reports that low back pain has a greater impact on global health than malaria, diabetes, or lung cancer; yet little progress has been made to identify effective prevention strategies.