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Work-related physical exposure and low back pain
  1. Annette Leclerc
  1. Correspondence to Population-based Epidemiological Cohorts Unit, INSERM, UMS 11, Bat 15/16, Hopital Paul Brousse, 16 av PV Couturier, 94807 Villejuif Cedex, France; annette.leclerc{at}inserm.fr

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For some musculoskeletal disorders, the negative effects of specific occupational exposures are mainly short-term effects. However, for low back pain (LBP), long-term effects are also important. The article by Lallukka et al.1 in this issue of the Journal reminds us of that fact, with a study in Finland based on a very long follow-up, more than 30 years. In this study focusing first on cardiovascular risk, 414 women and 324 men, aged 18–24 years in 1986, were followed-up until 2007. The information on LBP in 2007 included local and radiating LBP; presence or absence of LBP at baseline was also recorded, with some information on frequency. Physical heaviness of work was recorded in 1986 and also in 2007, based on a single question with a scale of six possible answers, from ‘light sedentary work’ to ‘physically very heavy work’. Smoking and body mass index could be taken into account in the analyses.

The main result for women was that radiating LBP at the end of follow-up was associated with medium heavy or heavy physical work. Among …

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