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Atherosclerosis. 2008 Mar;197(1):43-9. Epub 2007 Sep 7.

Serum lipids in relation to sciatica among Finns.

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Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland.



Atherosclerosis of arteries supplying the lumbar region has been suggested as a mechanism leading to intervertebral disc degeneration and sciatica. The study described here examined whether serum lipid levels or pharmacologically treated hyperlipidemia were associated with sciatica.


A nationally representative sample (n=8028) of Finns aged 30 years or over was interviewed and examined. Sciatica was assessed by a physician according to preset criteria. Information for the present purpose was available for 74.8% of the sample.


The prevalence of sciatica was 3.3% for men and 2.2% for women. In men without hyperlipidemia treatment, sciatica was associated with total cholesterol (high vs. low tertile: OR 2.28, 95% CI 1.14-4.55), LDL cholesterol (2.12; 1.11-4.05), and triglycerides (1.92; 1.04-3.55), adjusted for age, BMI, exercise, smoking, heavy physical work, and education. HDL was not associated with sciatica. For men in the highest tertile of both total cholesterol and triglycerides, the OR of sciatica was 3.89 (1.68-8.99) in comparison to men with cholesterol in the lowest tertile and triglycerides in the lowest or the middle tertile. In similar analyses among women no associations were seen. Pharmacologically treated hyperlipidemia was associated with sciatica in women (2.02; 1.01-4.04), but not in men (1.71; 0.83-3.55).


Independent of BMI and other possible confounders, clinically assessed sciatica in men was associated with levels of atherogenic serum lipids. Pharmacologically treated hyperlipidemia was associated with sciatica in women. The findings are in accordance with the atherosclerosis-sciatica hypothesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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