Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 939–942 | Cite as

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

  • Camille Tavares
  • Cintia Sophia Salvi
  • Renato NisiharaEmail author
  • Thelma Skare
Brief Report


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.


Low back pain Medical students Postural habits 


Compliance with ethical standards




  1. 1.
    Aggarwal N, Anand T, Kishore J, Ingle GK (2013) Low back pain and associated risk factors among undergraduate students of a medical college in Delhi. Educ Health (Abingdon) 26:103–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Feldman DE (2001) Risk factors for development of LBP in adolescents. Am J Epidemiol 154:30–36CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    O'Sullivan PB, Mitchell T, Bulich P, Waller R, Holte J (2006) The relationship between posture and back muscle endurance in industrial workers with flexion-related low back pain. Man Ther 11:264–271CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nawrocka A, Mynarski W, Powerska-Didkowska A, Grabara M, Garbaciak W (2014) Musculoskeletal pain among Polish music school students. Med Probl Perform Art 29:64–69CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hayes MJ, Smith DR, Cockrell D (2009) Prevalence and correlates of musculoskeletal disorders among Australian dental hygiene students. Int J Dent Hyg 7:176–181CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Algarni AD, Al-Saran Y, Al-Moawi A, Bin Dous A, Al-Ahaideb A, Kachanathu SJ (2017) The prevalence of and factors associated with neck, shoulder, and low-back pains among medical students at university hospitals in Central Saudi Arabia. Pain Res Treat 1235706:2017Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Vujcic I, Stojilovic N, Dubljanin E, Ladjevic N, Ladjevic I, Sipetic-Grujicic S (2018) Low back pain among medical students in Belgrade (Serbia): a cross-sectional study. Pain Res Manag 2018:8317906 eCollection 2018CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bohman T, Alfredsson L, Jensen I, Hallqvist J, Vingård E, Skillgate E (2014) Does a healthy lifestyle behaviour influence the prognosis of low back pain among men and women in a general population? A population-based cohort study. BMJ Open 4(12):e005713CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nusbaum L, Natour J, Ferraz MB, Goldenberg J (2001) Translation, adaptation and validation of the Roland-Morris questionnaire - Brazil Roland-Morris. Braz J Med Biol Res 34:203–210CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ozcan Kahraman B, Kahraman T, Kalemci O, Salik Sengul Y (2018) Gender differences in postural control in people with nonspecific chronic low back pain. Gait Posture 64:147–151CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Shiri R, Karppinen J, Leino-Arjas P, Solovieva S, Viikari-Juntura E (2010) The association between smoking and low back pain: a meta-analysis. Am J Med 123(1):87.e7–87.35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Alkherayf F, Agbi C (2009) Cigarette smoking and chronic low back pain in the adult population. Clin Invest Med 32:E360–E367CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Alkherayf F, Wai EK, Tsai EC, Agbi C (2010) Daily smoking and lower back pain in adult Canadians: the Canadian Community Health Survey. Pain Res 3:155–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kauppila LI, Tallroth K (1993) Postmortem angiographic findings for arteries supplying the lumbar spine: their relationship to low-back symptoms. J Spinal Disord 6:124–129CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Haroon H, Mehmood S, Imtiaz F, Ali SA, Sarfraz M (2018) Musculoskeletal pain and its associated risk factors among medical students of a public sector University in Karachi, Pakistan. J Pak Med Assoc 68:682–688PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Moroder P, Runer A, Resch H, Tauber M (2011) Low back pain among medical students. Acta Orthop Belg 77:88–92PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chen SM, Liu MF, Cook J, Bass S, Lo SK (2009) Sedentary lifestyle as a risk factor for low back pain: a systematic review. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 82:797–806CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hartvigsen J, Leboeuf-Yde C, Lings S, Corder EH (2000) Is sitting-while-at-work associated with low back pain? A systematic, critical literature review. Scand J Public Health 28:230–239PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Polatin PB, Kinney RK, Gatchel RJ, Lillo E, Mayer TG (1993) Psychiatric illness and chronic low-back pain. The mind and the spine: which goes first? Spine 18:66–71CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ramond A, Bouton C, Richard I, Roquelaure Y, Baufreton C, Legr E, Huez JF (2011) Psychosocial risk factors for chronic low back pain in primary care: a systematic review. Fam Pract 28:12–21CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sribastav SS, Peiheng H, Jun L, Zemin L, Fuxin W, Jianru W, Hui L, Hua W, Zhaomin Z (2017) Interplay among pain intensity, sleep disturbance and emotion in patients with non-specific low back pain. Peer J 5:e3282 eCollection 2017CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sagheer MA, Khan MF, Sharif S (2013) Association between chronic low back pain, anxiety and depression in patients at a tertiary care center. J Pak Med Assoc 63:688–690PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Arnstein P, Caudill M, Mandle CL, Norris A, Beasley R (1999) Self-efficacy as a mediator of the relationship between pain intensity, disability and depression in chronic pain patients. Pain 80:483–491CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Varni JW, Rapoff MA, Waldron SA, Gragg RA, Bernstein BH, Lindsley CB (1996) Chronic pain and emotional distress in children and adolescents. J Dev Behav Pediatr 17:154–161CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rheumatology ServiceEvangelic University Hospital of CuritibaCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of MedicinePositivo UniversityCuritibaBrazil
  3. 3.Medicine DepartmentEvangelical UniversityCuritibaBrazil

Personalised recommendations