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Risk factors for chronic low back pain in a sample of suburban Sri Lankan adult males


Correspondence: Dr A. L. Karunanayake, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Ragama 11010, Sri Lanka.




Chronic low back pain is an important health problem Sri Lankan males.


To determine the association between low back pain and posture, exercise, family history, level of education, level of income, smoking, consumption of alcohol and animal proteins.


A case control study was carried out among 166 cases (patients with low back pain) and 196 controls (without low back pain). Data was collected using a pretested structured interviewer-administered questionnaire, enquiring about demographic data and details of risk factors. Heights and weights were measured to calculate body mass index (BMI).


Age range was 18–85 years. Mean age (SD) for cases was 47.8 (16) years. Mean age (SD) for controls was 42.6 (17) years. Bad posture (odds ration [OR] = 107.4), lack of exercise (OR = 16.4), positive family history (OR = 42.3), moderate education (OR = 1.8), daily alcohol consumption (OR = 2.4) and not consuming animal proteins (OR = 4.6) were significant risk factors for low back pain. BMI, level of income and smoking did not have a significant association with low back pain.


Posture, exercise, family history, level of education, consumption of animal proteins and consumption of alcohol had significant associations with low back pain. Most risk factors were similar to other countries. However, being marginally over weight and smoking regularly were not significantly associated with low back pain.