An epidemiological investigation of low back pain in the white population of the greater eThekwini metropolitan area
Background: Previous investigations on the epidemiology of low back pain (LBP) in South Africa where limited to black, indian and coloured populations to the exclusion of whites. Thus the aim of this study was to determine a LBP profile and an overview of risk factors in the white population in the eThekwini metropolitan area. Objectives: These included documenting the point, period and lifetime prevalence of LBP, describing the characteristics of LBP, identifying the risk factors of LBP and assessing the effect on activities of daily living in the white population in the greater eThekwini metropolitan area. Method: The three most densely populated white suburbs in the greater eThekwini metropolitan were chosen and classified according to income potential (high/middle/low income) to ensure a balanced sample. Six hundred white participants were used in the study having 200 white participants in each suburb. Statistical Program for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 18.0 was used to analyse the data. Results: The prevalence of LBP was recorded as follows: lifetime prevalence (48%), period prevalence from 0-3 months (21.3%), 6-12 months (18.3%), LBP longer than 12 months (7.8%) and lastly point prevalence was recorded at 34%. All prevalences were notably lower than international and previously published African norms. The majority of the participants who reported current LBP stated that their pain was moderate (54.3%) [only 14.9% had severe pain]. The worst pain occurred in the evening. Non-progression of LBP was reported by most participants (41%), while some participants reported worsening (35.2%) and only (18%) were getting better. Current pain with mild disability was most frequent at 51.8%, often associated with bending and lifting, which were reported as the highest offenders for causing LBP. Only 16.8% of all participants had to stay away from work due to LBP for any period. The demographics of the sample indicated that age had significant difference in predisposing to LBP (the high income (highest age) verse low income (lowest age)). The gender distribution showed higher prevalence of LBP in females (53.3%) and males (46.7%). The factors associated with LBP predisposition in some instances were at odds with the prevailing literature, indicating that further research is required on white population group in Africa.