Frequent back pain in older women can be a precursor to premature death

November 7, 2018 15:38

Frequent and regular back pain is associated with premature death in older women, scientists have found. Boston Medical Center. Their scientific work was published in Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study included more than 8,000 older women, who were followed by an average of about 14 years. Scientists concluded that women with frequent or persistent back pain had a higher risk of death by 24% compared with women who had no back pain.

Back pain is the main cause of disability worldwide and women between 40 and 80 often complain about it. As a rule, women have frequent and debilitating back complaints more often than men.

"The results of our study raise the question of whether more effective treatment of back pain can prevent disability, improve quality of life and ultimately prolong life," says lead author and staff member of the Boston Medical Center, Eric Roseen.

After examining the causes of back pain, the scientists have re-examined the participants after two years and analyzed the causes of back pain. Four years later, the participants in the study were interviewed again, observing their daily lives. Researchers have discovered that disability due to back pain actually explains the later relationship between pain and mortality.

Especially the difficulties associated with carrying out certain daily activities, such as walking over short distances or cooking, account for almost half (47%) of deaths due to frequent and constant back pain. Slow performance of domestic functions (speed of movement or rising frequency from a chair) explained this relationship in about a quarter of the cases (27% and 24% respectively). Of the 8 321 women who participated in the study, a total of 56% died during the observation period, ie 14.1 years. At the same time 68.5% of people who complained about back pain died, and those without such pain 53.5%.

Although the results of the study are consistent with the results of previous studies that found a link between back pain in older women and an increased risk of death, the cause of this connection has not been clear so far.

"Back problems can directly interfere with an individual's daily activities – older people can try to avoid their daily functions for fear of injury or aggravation of symptoms, and failure to fulfill or avoid everyday household tasks can lead to weight gain, development or progression of other chronic diseases and eventually to premature death, "says Rozin.