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Does diabetes influence the probability of experiencing chronic low back pain? A population-based cohort study: the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study
  1. Ingrid Heuch1,
  2. Ivar Heuch2,
  3. Knut Hagen3,4,
  4. Elin Pettersen Sørgjerd5,
  5. Bjørn Olav Åsvold5,6,
  6. John-Anker Zwart1,7
  1. 1 Division of Clinical Neuroscience, Department of Research, Innovation and Education, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2 Department of Mathematics, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  3. 3 Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  4. 4 Norwegian Advisory Unit on Headaches, St Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
  5. 5 Department of Public Health and Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, HUNT Research Centre, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
  6. 6 Department of Endocrinology, St Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
  7. 7 Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ingrid Heuch; ingrid.heuch{at}


Objective Low back pain (LBP) is a major problem in modern society and it is important to study possible risk factors for this disorder. People with diabetes are often affected by LBP, but whether diabetes represents a risk factor for LBP has not been studied in detail. The aim of this study was to explore the association between diabetes and subsequent risk of chronic LBP.

Design An 11-year follow-up study.

Setting The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT2; 1995–1997) and HUNT3 (2006–2008) surveys of Nord-Trøndelag County in Norway.

Main outcome measure Chronic LBP, defined as LBP persisting at least 3 months continuously during the last year.

Participants A total of 18 972 persons without chronic LBP at baseline in HUNT2, and 6802 persons who reported chronic LBP at baseline in HUNT2.

Methods Associations between diabetes and risk of chronic LBP among individuals aged 30–69 years were examined by generalised linear modelling.

Results Men without chronic LBP at baseline showed a significant association between diabetes and risk of chronic LBP (relative risk (RR) 1.43, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.96, p=0.043). In women, no association was found (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.69 to 1.48, p=0.98). No association could be established between diabetes and recurrence or persistence of chronic LBP after 11 years in either sex.

Conclusions Men with a diagnosis of diabetes may have a higher risk of subsequently experiencing chronic LBP.

  • low back pain
  • diabetes
  • musculoskeletal disorder
  • cohort
  • HUNT

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  • Contributors InH, IvH, KH, EPS, BOÅ and JAZ contributed to the study design. InH and IvH contributed to analysis and interpretation of data. InH wrote the paper. IvH, KH, EPS, BOÅ and JAZ all revised the manuscript. All authors discussed the results, commented on the manuscript and approved the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The work was approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics in Central Norway, and HUNT was also approved by the Norwegian Data Inspectorate.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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