Older Adults with Chronic Low Back Pain Have Lower Skeletal Muscle Mass: Study

CLBP muscle massOlder adults with chronic lower back pain have less skeletal muscle mass. The study followed 100 participants with chronic lower back pain (CLBP) for at least three months, along with an additional 560 participants without CLBP. Participants were asked to report pain intensity from zero to 10 on a visual analog scale.

Skeletal muscle mass was measured using whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans. Body fat percentage and sarcopenia were defined as >2 standard deviations below the median skeletal muscle mass index (SMI). The standard SMI is 6.87 kg/m2 and 5.46 kg/m2 for men and women, respectively.


Cutoff values of body fat percentage were 28 and 40 percent for men and women, respectively. MRI scans were used to calculate cross-sectional areas (CSA) of the erector spinae and multifidus paraspinal muscles.

A total of 189 participants were identified with sarcopenia, with many of those participants having chronic lower back pain. CLBP participants had lower mean SMI and a higher body fat percentage ratio. Bone mineral density was comparable in both groups.

The researchers concluded, “Therapeutic procedures that are used to treat elderly aging muscle, including muscle strengthening and performance training, can possibly be a treatment for or used to prevent elderly CLBP.”

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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