In a nutshell
This study examined whether diabetes is a risk factor for lower back pain (LBP). The authors concluded that male patients with diabetes may have a higher risk of developing LBP compared to female patients.
Patients with diabetes have a higher chance of developing chronic (long-term) health complications. Some research has suggested that patients with diabetes may experience back pain more frequently than people who do not have diabetes. LBP and diabetes have important risk factors in common, such as obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking. However, few studies have looked at the relationship between diabetes and back pain. Whether diabetes is a risk factor for developing chronic LBP is unclear.
Methods & findings
This study had 25,774 participants. Participants were given questionnaires at the beginning of the study and at follow-up 11 years later. At the beginning of the study, 18,972 participants did not have LBP. 6802 participants did have LBP. In the no-LBP group, 276 patients had diabetes. In the LBP group, 118 patients had diabetes.
After 11 years, 20.5% of female participants and 14.6% of male participants who did not have LBP at the beginning of the study had developed LBP. Female participants with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher had a higher occurrence of LBP. 25.4% of female participants with a BMI of 35 and higher developed LBP compared to 21.9% of participants with a BMI of 30-34.9. However, BMI was not associated with LBP in male participants.
LBP was associated with diabetes status in male but not female participants. 19.8% of female participants with diabetes developed LBP compared to 20.5% who did not have diabetes. 19.4% of male participants with diabetes developed LBP compared to 14.5% who did not have diabetes. Overall, female participants had a 1% increased risk of developing LBP compared to a 43% increased risk for male participants with diabetes.
No difference was found for participants that had LBP at the start of the study compared to 11 years later. Among female participants, 66.2% with diabetes still had LBP compared to 59.6% without diabetes. Among male participants, 52% with diabetes still had LBP compared to 48.3% without diabetes.
The bottom line
This study found that male patients with diabetes had a higher risk of developing chronic LBP compared to female patients. However, no difference in risk was found for patients who already had LBP at the start of the study.
The fine print
This study did not collect data such as pain intensity, diabetes type, or duration of diabetes. This may have influenced the results. Also, this study only included Norwegian participants, so these results may not apply to all patients. More studies are needed to confirm these results.
Original Title :
Does diabetes influence the probability of experiencing chronic low back pain? A population-based cohort study: the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study.
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