Musculoskeletal fitness and health-related quality of life characteristics among sedentary office workers affected by sub-acute, non-specific low back pain

The authors undertook this study in order to establish the level of musculoskeletal fitness and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in sedentary office workers with sub-acute, non-specific low back pain, and compare the results with reference data for sedentary office workers who are healthy. 190 sedentary office workers were selected for the trial. 118 were suffering from sub-acute, non-specific low back pain (47 male and 71 female) and 72 age-matched healthy controls (30 men and 42 women). Participants were assessed using a musculoskeletal fitness battery (sit-and-reach test, hand grip strength, lumbar and abdominal trunk muscle endurance, and back scratch test), the EuroQol-5D-3L, Oswestry Disability Questionnaire, and Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. Data for both genders and conditions were compared. Subjects with low back pain achieved lower scores in most of the fitness tests compared with healthy, age-matched controls. Trunk flexor and extensor endurance demonstrated the largest difference in both men {flexion: median difference 59 [95% confidence interval (CI) 26 to 90]seconds; extension: median difference 24 [95% CI 20 to 68]} and women [flexion: median difference 59 (95% CI 5 to 85.50)seconds; extension: median difference 41 (95% CI 30 to 55)seconds]. Differences in HRQoL were also demonstrated between groups for both men and women, except for the pain/discomfort dimension in women.

The study found that that sedentary office workers with sub-acute, non-specific low back pain had lower musculoskeletal fitness than healthy, age-matched controls, with the largest difference seen being in endurance of the trunk muscles. HRQoL was also lower in workers with low back pain.

Physical activity programme

A series of five online courses that comprehensively explore physical activity and the related role of physiotherapy / physical therapy