A Prospective Study of Back Pain and Risk of Falls Among Older Community-dwelling Men

Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS) Research Group

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38 Scopus citations


Background: Musculoskeletal pain is associated with increased fall risk among older men. However, the association of back pain, the most prevalent type of pain in this population, and fall risk is unknown.

Methods: We conducted a prospective investigation among 5,568 community-dwelling U.S. men at least 65 years of age from the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS). Baseline questionnaires inquired about back pain and its location (such as low back), severity, and frequency in the past year. During 1 year of follow-up, falls were summed from self-reports obtained every 4 months. Outcomes were recurrent falls (≥2 falls) and any fall (≥1 fall). Associations of back pain and fall risk were estimated with risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) from multivariable log-binomial regression models adjusted for age, dizziness, arthritis, knee pain, urinary symptoms, self-rated health, central nervous system medication use, and instrumental activities of daily living.

Results: Most (67%) reported any back pain in the past year. During follow-up, 11% had recurrent falls and 25% fell at least once. Compared with no back pain, any back pain was associated with elevated recurrent fall risk (multivariable RR = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.1, 1.5). Multivariable RRs for 1, 2, and 3+ back pain locations were, respectively, 1.2 (95% CI: 1.0, 1.5), 1.4 (1.1, 1.8), and 1.7 (95% CI: 1.3, 2.2). RRs were also elevated for back pain severity and frequency. Back pain was also associated with risk of any fall.

Conclusions: Among older men, back pain is independently associated with increased fall risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1264-1269
Number of pages6
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Cohort studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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