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Back pain is an important public health problem but there is a paucity of knowledge about risk factors and causal mechanisms. Previous studies have shown that tall men are more at risk of back pain, although observations in women have been less consistent. This paper presents findings from a national longitudinal study of 3262 men and women aged 43 yr. Standing height and sitting height were related to 18-month reported prevalence of 'sciatica, lumbago or severe backache' in both men and women. The paper investigates explanations for these findings using previously collected data on childhood growth and detailed lifetime occupational histories. Neither greater susceptibility of tall men to heavy lifting, nor the timing of growth, were able to account for these relationships. To assess further the association between height and back pain, information is needed on the relationship between stature and characteristics of spinal structure.


Journal article


Br j rheumatol

Publication Date





911 - 916


Adult, Back Pain, Child Development, Child, Preschool, Employment, Female, Humans, Lifting, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Occupational Health, Posture, Prevalence, Proportional Hazards Models, Prospective Studies