study. “We know that older people with back pain have poor physical function, like lower strength and difficulty rising from a chair,” said lead author Lynn Marshall, an associate professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “Pain is not thought of as a traditional fall risk factor, but our study showed that back pain is a risk factor for falls among older men,” Marshall told Reuters Health by email. She and her colleagues analyzed data on nearly 6,000 men over age 65 living at home. Between 2000 and 2002, the participants filled out baseline questionnaires about back pain – whether they had experienced it in the previous 12 months, where the pain was, how often it happened and how severe it was. Over the following year, the men also reported every four months on whether they had fallen and how many times. More on this… Heavy lifting by young workers linked to low back pain in midlife The researchers also collected information on the men’s medication use, dizziness, disabilities and other body areas experiencing pain to account for the influence of these factors on the risk of a fall. Just over two thirds of the men reported having had back pain in the baseline questionnaire. Among these, 62 percent had pain only in the low back, 9 percent reported the pain as severe, 20 percent were bothered by their pain “all or most of the time” and 30 percent limited their activities because of the pain. During the next year 1,388 men – one quarter of the group – fell at least once, and 632 men had multiple falls, according to the results in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.
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