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Pain Med. 2003 Dec;4(4):311-20.

How does low back pain impact physical function in independent, well-functioning older adults? Evidence from the Health ABC Cohort and implications for the future.

Author information

1
Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206, USA. dweiner@pitt.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the relationships between low back pain (LBP) frequency and intensity and self-reported and performance-based physical function in a large cohort of well-functioning older adults.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey and examination.

SETTING:

Community-based cohort of the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study.

PARTICIPANTS:

Participants were 2,766 community-dwelling adults, aged 70-79; 42% were African American, 52% were men.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

1) Back pain-location, frequency, intensity; 2) Hip and/or knee pain; 3) Body mass index (BMI); 4) Self-reported difficulty doing functional tasks; 5) Lower extremity function, using the battery from the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies in the Elderly (EPESE); 6) Self-rated health; 7) Comorbidity; 8) Depressive symptoms, using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale.

RESULTS:

LBP was common (36%), and its frequency/intensity was significantly associated with other pain and comorbidities. In gender-specific models, LBP frequency/intensity was not significantly associated with EPESE performance score after adjusting for age, race, BMI, CES-D score, knee pain, hip pain, and other comorbidities. LBP frequency/intensity, however, was significantly associated with self-reported difficulty with most functional tasks after adjusting for important confounders.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among well-functioning community-dwelling older adults, LBP frequency/intensity was associated with perceived difficulty in performing important functional tasks, but not with observed physical performance. The demonstrated dose-response relationship between pain frequency/intensity and self-reported task performance difficulty underscores the importance of clinical efforts to treat pain without necessarily eradicating it. Additional work is needed to determine whether back pain is associated with a risk for progressive functional decline and loss of independence in older adults and whether therapeutic interventions can ameliorate decline and, therefore, preserve independence.

PMID:
14750907
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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