Prevalence and factors associated with a higher risk of neck and back pain among permanent wheelchair users: a cross-sectional study.
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STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of, and factors associated with, spinal pain among wheelchair users. SETTING: Four Spanish hospitals specialized in providing care for wheelchair users. METHODS: Persons who had used a wheelchair for a median (IRQ) of 10 (5;19) years, 27% of them due to reasons other than spinal cord injury, were recruited consecutively (n = 750). Data on 43 demographic, psychosocial, ergonomic, and clinical variables were collected, and analyzed. Main outcome measures were: point prevalence of neck (NP), thoracic (TP), low back pain (LBP), and pain at any spinal level (PASL); and factors associated with them. RESULTS: Point prevalence was 56% for NP, 54% for TP, 45% for LBP, and 76% for PSAL. PASL was associated with a lower quality of life (OR (95% CI) 0.91 (0.86; 0.97)). Multivariable regression models showed that the main factors associated with significant pain (≥1.5 VAS points) were: (a) For NP: cervical spinal injury and wheelchair seat cushion thickness, (b) For TP: thoracic spinal injury and sagittal index, (c) For LBP: thoracic or lumbar spinal injury, with some sensitivity remaining, (d) For PASL: being female, living alone, and using a non-power wheelchair. Discrimination (AUC) of these models ranged between 0.638 and 0.818. p-values in the Hosmer-Lemeshow test ranged between 0.420 and 0.701. CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of spinal pain among wheelchair users is high. It is associated with a lower quality of life. Future studies should assess whether using a power wheelchair affects PASL, and if the thickness of seat cushion affects NP. SPONSORSHIP: Spanish Back Pain Research Network.