Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Back pain is one of the most common reasons men head to see their doctors, and according to new findings, it may also be one of the main reasons why they suffer a fall injury.
According to a recent study of nearly 6,000 men over the age of 65 living at home, back pain increases the likelihood that they’ll suffer a fall, even if they have no other disabilities. To determine if fall risk was linked to back pain, researchers surveyed men on whether or not they had experienced any pain and if they had suffered any falls. The men were surveyed every four months to report pain and any falls they may have suffered. Researchers also tracked other factors that could contribute to fall likelihood, like medication use, dizziness, physical disabilities as well as pain in other locations of the body.
At the outset, just over two-thirds of men reported having some form of back pain, with 62 percent reporting that the pain was housed in their lower back. Over the course of the year, roughly one quarter of the group suffered at least one fall, and 632 men suffered multiple falls.
Back Pain and Fall Risk
When examining the data at the conclusion of the study, researchers noted that individuals with back pain were 30 percent more likely to fall multiple times compared to individuals without back pain. Additionally, the risk of any fall was higher for people with pain in two different parts of their back, and higher still for people will pain in three or more areas of their back, compared to individuals with no back pain. More severe back pain was also linked to an increased fall risk.
“Falls result when we lose our balance and fail to recover it. To avoid falls, we need to be aware of both the conditions that could cause us to lose balance and the conditions that prevent regaining balance,” said study lead author Lynn Marshall. “Pain is not thought of as a traditional fall risk factors, but our study showed that back pain is a risk factor for falls among older men.”
Researchers noted that older adults should consider some modifications to their home to reduce their risk of a fall. We’ll cover these options more thoroughly in a future blog post, but some of the suggestions put forth by researchers include tacking down rugs and adding grab bars in potentially troublesome areas like the bathroom.
If you have back pain and are concerned about your fall risk, set up a consultation with a spine specialist. They’ll be able to diagnose your pain and give you some tips for helping you fall-proof your life.