HealthDay News — Repeated measurements of low back pain-related variables are necessary to identify patterns in a fluctuating condition, according to researchers.

“Because low back pain is a fluctuating condition, the diversity in the prediction literature may be due to when the outcome is measured,” wrote Iben Axén, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues in The Spine Journal.

To investigate the prediction of low back pain, the researchers collected the “number of days with bothersome pain” via weekly text messages for six months from 244 subjects with nonspecific low back pain.

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Half of the subjects had experienced low back pain for more than 30 days in the previous year, according to the investigators. The risk of experiencing a day with bothersome low back pain varied over time, previous duration of pain intensity, and the presence of leg pain.

The previous duration of pain intensity, the presence of leg pain, and the duration of low back pain the previous year demonstrated a predictive ability for all time points; however, pain intensity, leg pain, and self-rated health showed inconsistent predictive patterns.

“These results may explain the diversity of the results of the predictor studies in the literature,” wrote the researchers. “Findings from this study indicate that outcomes should be measured much more frequently in order to obtain more accurate appraisal of temporal pain patterns and estimates of pain predictors.”


  1. Axén I et al. The Spine Journal. 2014; doi: