Back pain is highly prevalent among the adult population and the leading cause of disability worldwide. Women aged 40-80 years have a higher prevalence of back pain than men, and report more debilitating, more frequent back pain. Relatively little is known regarding back pain and how it may influence other diseases which impact on quality of life, disability, and mortality in an ageing population.

An important public health goal is to improve the quality of life of an ageing population, because it is likely an extending life span will increase the demands on health care resources. Latest research raises the question of whether better management of back pain could prevent disability, improve quality of life, and even extend life.

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Back Pain and Mortality Among Older Women

New supported evidence suggests older women with daily or disabling back pain have an elevated mortality risk. Although the mechanisms between elevated mortality and back pain are unknown, it is clear that frequent back pain is a serious health problem in older women. The management of back pain and related health conditions of older women are likely to be important factors affecting mortality rates and demands on health care resources. 

Regular Back Pain Linked to Earlier Death

New research consolidates previous findings that suggests there is a link between back pain and earlier death in older women (1).  The research involved more than 8000 American women aged 65 years or older, who were followed for an average of 14 years. The authors concluded that frequent, persistent back pain is associated with earlier death. A similar study (2) previously conducted that involved 1,484 Australian women aged 70–85 years who were followed up for 5-years, also found daily back pain was associated with mortality. They found 103% higher risk of mortality associated with daily back pain. C

Journal References:

1. Eric J. Roseen, Michael P. LaValley, Shanshan Li, Robert B. Saper, David T. Felson, Lisa Fredman. Association of Back Pain with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality Among Older Women: a Cohort StudyJournal of General Internal Medicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-018-4680-7

2.Zhu, Kun, Devine, Amanda, Dick, Ian M., Prince, Richard L.,Association of Back Pain Frequency With Mortality, Coronary Heart Events, Mobility, and Quality of Life in Elderly WomenSpine:August 15, 2007 – Volume 32 – Issue 18 – p 2012-2018

DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318133fb82,.15.aspx