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      Daily smoking and lower back pain in adult Canadians: the Canadian Community Health Survey

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          Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the primary causes of disability in the Canadian community. However, only a limited number of studies have addressed the association between daily smoking and LBP in Canada. Of the studies that have explored this association, many had small sample sizes and failed to control for confounders.


          The primary objective of the study was to determine if daily smoking is associated with an increased risk of having LBP. The secondary objectives were to assess the risk for LBP among occasional smokers and to determine the prevalence of LBP in relation to different covariates.

          Data and study design:

          Using the Canadian Community Health Survey (cycle 3.1) data, 73,507 Canadians between the ages of 20 and 59 years were identified. LBP status, smoking level, sex, age, body mass index (BMI), level of activity and level of education were assessed in these subjects.


          Stratified analysis and logistic regression analysis were used to detect effect modifications and to adjust for covariates. Population weight and design were taken into consideration.


          The prevalence of LBP was 23.3% among daily smokers and 15.7% among non-smokers. Age and sex were found to be effect modifiers. The association between LBP and daily smoking was statistically significant in all ages and genders; this association was stronger for younger age groups. The adjusted odds ratio for male daily smokers aged 20 to 29 was 1.87 (95% CI = 1.62, 2.17); findings were similar for women. Occasional smoking slightly increased the odds of having back pain.


          Young Canadian daily smokers are at higher risk for LBP. This study also suggests a positive correlation between smoking dose and the risk of LBP. These findings indicate that smoking behavioral modification may have an impact on reducing back pain especially among young adults.

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          Most cited references 26

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          The course of low back pain from adolescence to adulthood: eight-year follow-up of 9600 twins.

          Prospective study with 8-year follow-up. To describe the evolution of low back pain from adolescence into adulthood. High prevalence rates of low back pain among children and adolescents have been demonstrated in several studies, and it has been theorized that low back pain in childhood may have important consequences for future low back pain. It is important to understand the nature of such a link if effective preventive programs are to be established. Almost 10,000 Danish twins born between 1972 and 1982 were surveyed by means of postal questionnaires in 1994 and again in 2002. The questionnaires dealt with various aspects of general health, including the prevalence of low back pain, classified according to number of days affected (0, 1-7, 8-30, >30). Low back pain in adolescence was found to be a significant risk factor for low back pain in adulthood with odds ratios as high as four. We also demonstrated a dose-response association: the more days with low back pain at baseline, the higher the risk of future low back pain. Twenty-six percent of those with low back pain for more than 30 days during the baseline year also had more than 30 days with low back pain during the follow-up year. This was true for only 9% of the rest of the sample. Our study clearly demonstrates correlations between low back pain in childhood/adolescence and low back pain in adulthood. This should lead to a change in focus from the adult to the young population in relation to research, prevention, and treatment.
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            The Saskatchewan health and back pain survey. The prevalence of low back pain and related disability in Saskatchewan adults.

            Population-based, cross-sectional, mailed survey. To determine the lifetime, 6-month period, and point prevalence of low back pain and its related disability among Saskatchewan adults and to investigate the presence and strength of selective response bias. There have been many reports of the prevalence of low back pain in different populations, and the estimates vary widely depending on case definition. However, most studies fail to differentiate between trivial and disabling back pain, which raises the issue of the usefulness of these estimates. No studies have yet documented the prevalence of graded low back pain severity and its related disability in a North American, general, population-based survey. The Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey was mailed to a probability sample of 2184 Saskatchewan adults between 20 and 69 years of age. Fifty-five percent of the eligible population responded to the survey. Respondents were compared with nonrespondents, and the presence of selective response bias by back pain status was investigated by wave analysis. The point and lifetime prevalence of low back pain was determined by simple questions, and the 6-month period prevalence of low back pain was determined by the Chronic Pain Questionnaire. All estimates were age standardized to the Saskatchewan population. The authors estimate that at the time of the survey 28.4% (95% confidence interval, 25.6-31.1) of the Saskatchewan adult population were experiencing low back pain, and 84.1% (95% confidence interval, 81.9-86.3) had experienced it during their lifetime. Overall, 48.9% (95% confidence interval, 45.9-52.0) of the population had experienced low intensity/low-disability low back pain in the previous 6 months, 12.3% (95% confidence interval, 10.3-14.4) had experienced high-intensity/low-disability low back pain, and an additional 10.7% (95% confidence interval, 8.8-12.5) had experienced high-disability low back pain in the previous 6 months. There was little variation in the estimates over age groups, but women experienced more high-disability back pain than men. There was no evidence of selective response bias by low back pain status in the survey. Low-intensity/low-disability low back pain is a common problem in the general population. Approximately 11% of the adult population studied had been disabled by low back pain in the previous 6 months.
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              Incidence and course of low back pain episodes in the general population.

              Population-based, prospective cohort. To estimate incidence and course of severity-graded low back pain (LBP) episodes in adults. Past studies report variable estimates that do not differentiate LBP severity. An incidence cohort of 318 subjects free of LBP and a course cohort of 792 prevalent cases was formed from respondents to a mailed survey. Incident, recurrent, persistent, aggravated, improved, and resolved episodes were defined by the Chronic Pain Questionnaire. The follow-up at 6 and 12 months was 74% and 62%, respectfully. Annual estimates were age and sex standardized. The cumulative incidence was 18.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 14.2%-23.0%). Most LBP episodes were mild. Only 1.0% (95% CI, 0.0%-2.2%) developed intense and 0.4% (95% CI, 0.0%-1.0%) developed disabling LBP. Resolution occurred in 26.8% (95% CI, 23.7%-30.0%), and 40.2% (95% CI, 36.7%-43.8%) of episodes persisted. The severity of LBP increased for 14.2% (95% CI, 11.5%-16.8%) and improved for 36.1% (95% CI, 29.7%-42.2%). Of those that recovered, 28.7% (95% CI, 21.2%-36.2%)had a recurrence within 6months,and 82.4% of it was mild LBP. Younger subjects were less likely to have persistent LBP (incidence rate ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.80-0.97) and more likely to have resolution (incidence rate ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.02-1.56). Most new and recurrent LBP episodes are mild. Less than one third of cases resolve annually, and more than 20% recur within 6 months. LBP episodes are more recurrent and persistent in older adults.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of pain research
                Dove Medical Press
                26 August 2010
                : 3
                : 155-160
                [1 ]University of Ottawa, Division of Neurosurgery, Ottawa, Ontario;
                [2 ]University of Ottawa, Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Ottawa, Ontario;
                [3 ]The Ottawa Hospital, Civic campus, Division of Neurosurgery, Ottawa, Ontario;
                [4 ]The Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus, Spine Unit, Ottawa, Ontario;
                [5 ]The Ottawa Hospital, Civic Campus, Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Ottawa, Ontario;
                [6 ]The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Fahad Alkherayf, Civic Campus Neuroscience C2, 1053 Carling Ave Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 4E9, Canada, Tel +1 613 797 1239, Fax +1 613 761 4767, Email alkherayf@ 123456hotmail.com
                © 2010 Alkherayf et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Original Research


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