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Participation in physical activity and back pain among an elderly population in South Asia

Authors Bishwajit G, Tang S, Yaya S, Feng Z

Received 23 January 2017

Accepted for publication 4 March 2017

Published 15 April 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 905—913


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Ghose Bishwajit,1,2 Shangfeng Tang,1 Sanni Yaya,3 Zhanchun Feng1

1School of Medicine and Health Management, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, People’s Republic of China; 2Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh; 3School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Globally, chronic back pain is one of the most commonly encountered medical conditions among an elderly population with significant bearings on health, functional mobility and general well-being.
Objective: To estimate the burden of chronic back pain and its association with physical activity (PA) among population aged 50 years and above in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Methods: Cross-sectional data on 8502 men and women aged 50 years and above were collected from the World Health Survey (2002). Three forms of PA were considered – vigorous physical activity (VPA), moderate physical activity (MPA) and walking. Odds ratios (ORs) of the association between self-reported back pain and VPA, MPA and walking were calculated by using generalized estimating equations.
Results: The prevalence of back pain was, respectively, 64.8%, 19.8%, 69.5%, 40.6% and 36.2% in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. No significant association between back pain and VPA was observed among men in any of the countries. In India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the odds of suffering from back pain were, respectively, 29%, 2.5 times and 59% higher among women who almost never took MPA. In India, taking MPA for few days a week and almost never was associated with, respectively, 38% (OR=1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.017–1.876) and 56% (OR=1.564; 95% CI=1.003–2.438) higher odds of reporting back pain. Walking almost never was also associated with, respectively, 83% (OR=1.829; 95% CI=1.14–2.934) and 2.9 times (OR=2.854; 95% CI=1.419–5.738) higher odds of reporting back pain among men in Nepal and Pakistan, respectively.
Conclusion: Though the relationship was not consistent across sex and countries, results indicate that inadequate or nonparticipation can substantially increase the likelihood of suffering from back pain among an elderly population in this region. Further research is needed to better understand this relationship and the potential of exercised-based strategies to prevent and treat back pain among elderly persons.

Keywords: back pain, older people, physical activity, South Asia, world health survey

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