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Patients with severe low back pain exhibit a low level of physical activity before lumbar fusion surgery: a cross-sectional study

Journal article
Authors Hanna Lotzke
Max Jakobsson
Annelie Gutke
Maria Hagströmer
Helena Brisby
Olle Hägg
Rob Smeets
Mari Lundberg
Published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Volume 19
Issue 1
Pages 365
ISSN 1471-2474
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Orthopaedics
Pages 365
Language en
Keywords Accelerometer Chronic low back pain Kinesiophobia Lumbar surgery Steps per day
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences, Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine


BACKGROUND: People with severe low back pain are at higher risk of poor health. Patients scheduled for lumbar fusion surgery are assumed to have low levels of physical activity, but few data exist. The aim of the study was firstly to investigate preoperative levels of objectively measured physical activity in patients with severe low back pain waiting for lumbar fusion surgery, and secondly to investigate whether factors in the fear-avoidance model were associated with these levels. METHODS: We included 118 patients waiting for lumbar fusion surgery (63 women and 55 men; mean age 46 years). Physical activity expressed as steps per day and total time spent in at least moderate-intensity physical activity was assessed with ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers. The data were compared to the WHO recommendations on physical activity for health. Whether factors in the fear-avoidance model were associated with physical activity was evaluated by two different multiple linear regression models. RESULTS: Ninety-six patients (83%) did not reach the WHO recommendations on physical activity for health, and 19 (16%) patients took fewer than 5000 steps per day, which indicates a sedentary lifestyle. On a group level, higher scores for fear of movement and disability were associated with lower numbers of steps per day. CONCLUSION: A high proportion of the patients did not reach the WHO recommendations on physical activity and are therefore at risk of poor health due to insufficient physical activity. We also found a negative association between both fear of movement and disability, and the number of steps per day. Action needs to be taken to motivate patients to be more physically active before surgery, to improve health postoperatively. There is a need for interventions aimed at increasing physical activity levels and reducing barriers to physical activity in the prehabilitation phase of this patient group. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISCRTN 17115599 , retrospectively Registered 18 may 2015.

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