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Prevalence and factors associated with low back pain in retired Great Britain’s Olympians: a cross-sectional study

Cooper, D; Batt, M; O'Hanlon, M; Palmer, D


M Batt

M O'Hanlon

D Palmer


This study determined the point prevalence and factors associated with low back pain (LBP) in retired Great Britain’s (GB) Olympians. Six hundred and thirteen retired athletes completed a cross-sectional survey. Prevalence of LBP (pain on most days in the past 4-weeks) was 32.1%. LBP was associated with a prior significant low back injury [aOR 2.51; 95% CI, 1.60- 3.92, p<0.001] and a change from a healthy to a high BMI [aOR 2.21; 95% CI, 1.46-3.34, p<0.001]. Fewer cases of LBP were reported in those with a moderate training volume [aOR 0.29; 95% CI, 0.18-0.48, p<0.001] and those aged 75 years and older [aOR 0.51; 95% CI, 0.29-0.91, p=0.022]. Chronic LBP (symptoms past > 12-weeks) was associated with a higher pain severity [aOR 1.18; 95% CI, 1.02-1.37. p=0.031], widespread pain [aOR 2.62; 95% CI, 1.15-5.99, p=0.022], anxiety (aOR 2.99; 95% CI, 1.14-7.80, p=0.025) and depression [aOR 2.47; 95% CI, 1.08-5.63, p=0.031]. LBP is common in retired GB Olympians. Chronic symptoms were associated with features of central sensitization and imply that different pain mechanisms are involved in those with persistent symptoms. Strategies to promote health among retired athletes should consider the importance of psychological factors in the management of back pain.

Acceptance Date Sep 27, 2021
Publication Date Oct 6, 2021
Journal Translational Sports Medicine
Print ISSN 2573-8488
Publisher Hindawi
Pages 807-816
Keywords health; injury; musculoskeletal system
Publisher URL