According to a study published in the European Journal of Pain, findings suggests that there is an increased risk of mortality in women over 70 with disabling back pain.
The authors say that the findings support previous research linking increased mortality to back pain among working age people. “In addition, we present new data to suggest that this association may be limited to disabling pain and appears to be specific to women”, they stated.
The study was led by Rachel Docking, a researcher at the University of Aberdeen in the UK. She and her team analyzed how back pain impacted the daily lives of 1174 participants over the age of 75. “Disabling” back pain was categorized as being serious enough to disrupt daily tasks within the past month. On average, the participants were 85 years old and 65 percent were female. Researchers were able to obtain a date of death of 1158 participants; 15 were known to still be alive and one was unable to be traced since relocating overseas.
Disabling back pain occurred in 6 percent of the participants, or 65 subjects. The rate of this increased with the age of the participant. The risk of debilitating back pain was more than twice as likely to occur in participants over the age of 90 compared to those between the ages of 70 and 79. Disabling back pain increased the risk of mortality by 1.4 fold compared to no back pain. This association remained significant, although borderline, even after statistics were adjusted for sociodemographical factors and potential confounders such as medications, shortness of breath and galls.
The researchers stated that “[I]t may be that chronic or disabling pain may be aetiologically different between men and women”, They speculated that disabling back pain impacted lifestyles and subsequently increased risk factors for death, including lack of physical activity, manual work and a poor diet. The authors also said that more research should be analyze specifically how pain increases the risk of mortality.