Is chronic low back pain a risk factor for diabetes? The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study
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Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the risk of diabetes associated with the presence or absence of chronic low back pain, considering both cross-sectional and cohort data.
Research design and methods: Analyses were based on the Norwegian HUNT2 and HUNT3 surveys of Nord-Trøndelag County. The prevalence of diabetes was compared in groups with and without chronic low back pain among 45 157 participants aged 30–69 years. Associations between low back pain at baseline and risk of diabetes were examined in an 11-year follow-up of 30 380 individuals with no baseline diagnosis of diabetes. The comorbidity between diabetes and low back pain was assessed at the end of follow-up. All analyses were carried out considering generalized linear models incorporating adjustment for other relevant risk factors.
Results: Cross-sectional analyses did not reveal any association between low back pain and diabetes. With adjustment for age, body mass index, physical activity and smoking, the cohort study of women showed a significant association between low back pain at baseline and risk of diabetes (RR 1.30; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.54, p=0.003). The association differed between age groups (p=0.015), with a stronger association in relatively young women. In men, no association was found in the whole age range (RR 1.02; 95% CI 0.86 to 1.21, p=0.82). No association was observed between diabetes and chronic low back pain at the end of follow-up.
Conclusion: Among younger women, those with chronic low back pain may have an increased risk of diabetes.