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Can We Trust the Literature on Risk Factors and Triggers for Low Back Pain? A Systematic Review of a Sample of Contemporary Literature

Ardakani, E.M., Leboeuf-Yde, C. and Walker, B.F.ORCID: 0000-0002-8506-6740 (2019) Can We Trust the Literature on Risk Factors and Triggers for Low Back Pain? A Systematic Review of a Sample of Contemporary Literature. Pain Research and Management, 2019 . Article ID 6959631.

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Risk factors (RFs) for the “disease” of low back pain (LBP) are probably different from the triggers of new episodes of LBP. Investigating RFs for the onset of the “disease” and the triggers of LBP is problematic if researchers fail to discern the different types of pain-free status of participants at and before baseline. There is a difference between never having had LBP and having been pain-free for a certain period only. In this review, we assessed the dependability of contemporary literature on RFs and triggers of LBP, in relation to the “disease” and the episodes, respectively.


A literature search from 2010 until 2017 was performed. Information on the definitions of LBP, potential RFs/triggers, and study design was extracted. Studies were reclassified based on the type of LBP concerning the “disease,” episode, or mixed/unclear/chronic. RFs and triggers were grouped into major domains, and positive associations listed, respectively, for the “disease” and episodes.


In 42 of the included 47 articles, it was not clear if the authors investigated RFs for the “disease” of LBP or triggers of new episodes. Only one study properly reported RFs for the onset of the “disease” of LBP, and four studies were deemed suitable to investigate triggers for a new episode of LBP. No study reproduced the results of other included studies.


Trustworthy information regarding RFs and triggers of LBP is rare in the current literature. Future research needs to use precise definitions of LBP (onset of the “disease” vs. episodes) and nominate the timing of the associated factors in relation to the types of LBP as these are two critical factors when studying causes of LBP.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Publisher: Hindawi Limited
Copyright: © 2019 Emad M. Ardakani et al.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
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