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Association of back pain with all-cause and cause-specific mortality among older men: a cohort study.

Pain Medicine 2024 May 14
OBJECTIVE: We evaluated whether more severe back pain phenotypes-persistent, frequent or disabling back pain-are associated with higher mortality among older men.

METHODS: In this secondary analysis of a prospective cohort, the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study, we evaluated mortality rates by back pain phenotype among 5215 older community-dwelling men (mean age, 73 years, SD = 5.6) from six U.S. sites. The primary back pain measure used baseline and year five back pain questionnaire data to characterize participants as having: no back pain; non-persistent back pain; infrequent persistent back pain; or frequent persistent back pain. Secondary measures of back pain from year five questionnaire included disabling back pain phenotypes. The main outcomes measured were all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

RESULTS: After the year five exam, during up to 18 years of follow-up (mean follow-up=10.3 years), there were 3513 deaths (1218 cardiovascular, 764 cancer, 1531 other). A higher proportion of men with frequent persistent back pain versus no back pain died (78% versus 69%; sociodemographic-adjusted HR = 1.27, 95%CI=1.11-1.45). No association was evident after further adjusting for health-related factors such as self-reported general health and comorbid chronic health conditions (fully-adjusted HR = 1.00; 95%CI=0.86-1.15). Results were similar for cardiovascular mortality and other mortality, but we observed no association of back pain with cancer mortality. Secondary back pain measures including back-related disability were associated with increased mortality risk that remained statistically significant in fully-adjusted models.

CONCLUSION: While frequent persistent back pain was not independently associated with mortality in older men, additional secondary disabling back pain phenotypes were independently associated with increased mortality. Future investigations should evaluate whether improvements in disabling back pain effect general health and well-being or mortality.

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