Date of Award

Spring 4-21-2004

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Heather Bidinger

Second Advisor

Dawn B. Ludwig


The Prevalence of Low Back Pain and its Association with Body Mass Index Background: The question of whether obesity is a risk factor for the development of low back pain (LBP) has been the subject of considerable research. To date no clear consensus has been made concerning this highly debated issue. The purpose of this study is to determine whether overweight individuals, BMI > 25, reported higher incidences of LBP over the course of one year while accounting for other known risk factors for the development of LBP. Methods; This non-experimental study design utilized an eleven question survey to gather data from sixty-one undergraduate day-program Augsburg College students enrolled in required physical education course work. Results: Results indicated that overweight individuals, accounting for other known risk factors, reported low back pain over the course of the past year L.94 times more than individuals of normal weight. A chi-square test with a confidence interval (p=0'014) provided support that the association observed was not due to random chance. Despite the strong association a cause and effect relationship could not be established due to the design of the study. Conclusions: This study found overweight individuals to report experiencing LBP in the past year at rate nearly twice high as normal weight individuals. However with this being said there is no clear picture from this and past research that can determine if there is a true cause and effect relationship between obesity and LBP. Until such a carefully constructed study is achieved isolating these two specific variables the question of whether obesity causes low back pain cannot be clearly answered.


SC 11.PAS.2004.Beebout.L