In a new study, researchers have identified physical and psychosocial triggers that can be modified to prevent acute episodes of low back pain.

Some facts about low back pain: It affects over 8 in 10 people at some point in their lives, and many factors including physical, psychological and occupational help to trigger it.

The researchers, led by Manuela Ferreira, an associate professor with theGeorge Institute for Global Health and Sydney Medical School at The University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia found that carrying out manual tasks involving awkward postures increases the risk of triggering acute low back pain by eight times.

They also found that fatigue and being distracted can also significantly increase the risk of acute low back pain.

For the study, they surveyed nearly 1,000 patients attending clinics in Sydney for episodes of acute low back pain. The survey asked the participants about 12 physical or psychosocial factors they may have experienced in the 4 days before the back pain episode began.

The results showed that the odds of a new back pain episode was significantly linked to a number of triggers – ranging from a nearly 3 times higher chance following moderate to vigorous physical activity to a 25 times higher chance after being distracted during an activity.

The team also found that age was a factor in triggering back pain when lifting heavy loads – with younger people being significantly more likely to suffer an episode of acute low back pain after such activity than older people.

A new finding not seen before was that the risk of suffering low back pain was highest between 7 am and noon.

Professor Ferreira says understanding which factors are likely to trigger back pain and controlling exposure to such risks is an important first step in prevention, and notes:

“Our findings enhance knowledge of low back pain triggers and will assist the development of new prevention programs that can reduce suffering from this potentially disabling condition.”

Reporting on another 2012 study published in the journal Spine, Medical News Today learned how getting
the right advice on how to remain active when on medical leave with low back pain can increase workers’ chances of returning to work.


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