Background: Low Back Musculoskeletal Disorder (LBMD) is the most prevalent and costly in the United States (U.S.) and accounts for a significant amount of Back Pain (BP) and suffering, leading to increased worker absenteeism and workers’ compensation (WC) claims. LBMD is not a simple one-to-one relationship, but rather the combination of key risk factors within a complex system.
Method: Logistic regression model with retrospective data (2006-2009) from 9,149 employees who participated in a work-life program at a Midwestern university was generated to determine the risk factors for the 15.5% (n=1,414) who reported that they had self-reported on-going back pain (SOBP) serious enough to interfere with their daily activities. To understand the complexity surrounding SOBP, the dataset contained WC claims, Occupational Safety and Health Administration 300 Logs, biometric and lifestyle risk factors. To identify LBMD risk factors, SOBP risk factors will be compared to risk factors for CLBP and LBI.
Results: Five risk factors associated with SOBP serious enough to interfere with their daily activities are medical diagnosis of CLBP, persistent neck and wrist pain (tingling or numbness), previous LBI, and overall bodily pain. The risk factors associated with LBMD (SOBP, CLBP, LBI): Age, gender, lifting/twisting/bending, stress, person with high blood pressure, physical health (bodily pain), emotional health (level of depression) and fatigue.
Conclusion: LBMS is a combination of key risk factors within a complex system that consists of SOBP, CLBP, and LBI. Identifying and understanding the risk factors for SOBP and its relationship with CLBP and previous LBI is essential to contribute to the current efforts when developing new and improving existing Workplace Preventative Strategies (WPS). Implementing WPS to reduce LBMD must not only consider traditional ergonomics equipment and training but consider strategies to reduce the risk factors for SOBP, CLBP and LBI.