Obesity, smoking may lead to lower back problems, work disability: study

May 25, 2011

Kuopio, Finland – Musculoskeletal pain, obesity and smoking can increase the risk of lower back disorders that result in work disability, indicates a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, determined factors associated with the risk of lower back disorders. Pain in the neck, shoulder or back was associated with a more than twofold increase in the risk of disability. Other factors identified included having a chronic disease or a job requiring manual labor.

The researchers also discovered some risk factors that potentially could be modified, such as being overweight, smoking and frequently using pain relievers. “Health interventions early in work-life may be of importance both to improve workability and prolong working careers, particularly in occupations including physical loading,” the study concluded.