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December/January 2012/2013 (vol. 09/4)

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Sub-chronic back pain – a precursor for work-related chronic pain

A prospective cohort study of female healthcare workers responsible for elderly care in Denmark has found no additional risk of developing low back pain (LBP) from patient-handling activities in workers with no LBP at baseline. However, workers with sub-chronic LBP – defined as no more than 30 days pain in the previous 12 months – at baseline, and who carried out more than 10 patient-handling activities per day, had a statistically significant increased risk of developing persistent LBP (more than 30 days’ pain in the previous 12 months) at one-year follow-up (odds ratio = 1.62; 95% CI 1.07–2.42). The study was based on 1,544 eldercare workers with no LBP, and 2,294 employees with sub-chronic LBP. The 30-day cut-off was based on a previous finding that only workers reporting more than 30 days’ LBP in the previous year were at raised risk of long-term sickness absence.

Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health 2012; online first: doi:10.5271/sjweh.3329.  http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=3329

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Occupational Health at Work December/January 2012/2013 (vol. 09/4) pp41