Low back pain in Brazilian medical students: a cross-sectional study in 629 individuals

Research paper by Camille Tavares, Cintia Sophia Salvi, Renato Nisihara, Thelma Skare

Indexed on: 07 Oct '18Published on: 06 Oct '18Published in: Clinical Rheumatology


Low back pain (LBP) is a common problem in the general population. Medical students may be at risk of LBP because of demanding curricula. To study the prevalence of LBP in Brazilian medical students and the associated factors. Six hundred twenty-nine medical students (72.8% females, mean age of 23 years old) answered a questionnaire containing epidemiological data; data on presence and frequency of LBP, use of painkillers, and LBP interference in daily activities; number of sitting and exercising hours/day, posture habits. They also filled a VAS (or visual analogic scale) on the own perception of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and the Roland Morris functional questionnaire for LBP. In this sample, 81.7% had periods of recurrent LBP that was more common in females (77.6% vs 51.3%; p < 0.0001) and associated with bad posture habits (p < 0.0001). Number of sitting hours, exercising, and study period at school could not be associated with LBP. The mean Roland Morris result was 4.0; IQR = 2–7 and its value showed a modest correlation with VAS of anxiety (rho = 0.21) and depression (rho = 0.33). LBP interfered with social activities in 20.5%, with physical activities in 33.1%, and in school activities in 29.2%. There is a high prevalence of LBP in medical students, mainly females, associated with bad posture habits. Physical dysfunction for LBP showed correlation with anxiety and depression.