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Associations Between Serum Lipid Levels and Chronic Low Back Pain

Heuch, Ingrida; Heuch, Ivarb; Hagen, Knutc,d; Zwart, John-Ankera,c,e,f

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181f20808
Cardiovascular Disease: Brief Report

Background: Low back pain may be related to abnormal lipid levels because of atherosclerosis in arteries supplying the lumbar region.

Methods: In the cross-sectional HUNT 2 study in the Norwegian county of Nord-Trøndelag, lipid levels were measured in 33,962 women and 30,031 men. A total of 8954 women (26%) and 6273 men (21%) reported suffering from low back pain continuously for at least 3 months in the past year.

Results: In age-adjusted analyses, the prevalence of low back pain was inversely associated with HDL cholesterol and positively associated with triglycerides, with stronger associations in women than in men. Relatively weak associations remained in women after adjustment for smoking, physical activity, education, work status, blood pressure, and body mass, but no associations remained among men. Total cholesterol levels were unrelated to low back pain in either sex after age adjustment.

Conclusions: The results are partly consistent with the atherosclerosis hypothesis.


From the aDepartment of Neurology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; bDepartment of Mathematics, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway; cDepartment of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; dNorwegian National Headache Centre, Department of Neurology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway; eNational Centre for Spinal Disorders, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway; and fFaculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (the HUNT study) is a collaboration between the HUNT Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); Norwegian Institute of Public Health; and the Nord-Trøndelag County Council. Laboratory measurements were carried out at facilities owned by the Nord-Trøndelag Hospital Trust.

Submitted 17 June 2009; accepted 20 April 2010; posted 26 August 2010.

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Correspondence: Ingrid Heuch, Department of Neurology, Oslo University Hospital, N-0407 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.