Women with incontinence, respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal problems have increased risk for development of back pain, according to research reported in The Journal of Pain, the peer review publication of the American Pain Society, Glenview, Ill.

Australian pain researchers reviewed case histories of some 7,500 young, middle-age, and older women who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health who reported no back pain during the preceding 12 months, says a statement released by the American Pain Society. The participants were followed for up to 4 years.

The study aimed to show that identifying some conditions that may predispose women to back pain later in life may assist in prevention and help control the cost of a widespread and expensive health problem, says the statement.

Results showed that women with preexisting incontinence, breathing difficulties, and gastrointestinal disorders were more likely to develop back pain than women without these afflictions, says the statement. The prevalence of new back pain found in the study participants was 37% in the younger group, 39% for the middle-age women, and 16% in the older group.

The authors said their data shows that associations between incontinence and respiratory disorders and back pain were attributable to changes in control of trunk muscles occurring over time. For example, frequent sneezing and coughing caused by allergies are associated with trunk muscle co-contraction and increased spinal loading, which can lead to back pain, says the statement.

Regarding the relationship of gastrointestinal problems and back pain, the authors noted that altered abdominal muscle activity is common in disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, and back pain may be a symptom of gastrointestinal problems, says the statement, further noting that the basis for this association is unclear.

This is the first study linking incontinence, respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal problems with development of back pain in women, according to the statement. The implications of the findings for treatment options could focus on improving trunk muscle control to reduce potential for developing back pain, says the statement.

[Source: American Pain Society]