Chronic back pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and in a control population: prevalence and disability--a 5-year follow-up.
ABSTRACT To determine the prevalence of chronic back pain and its changes over 5 years in patients with RA compared with community controls and to evaluate the influence of chronic back pain in functional capacity, general pain and global health.
The prevalence of chronic back pain in 1076 patients with RA and in 1491 community controls was evaluated using a mailed questionnaire, which also queried the functional capacity on the HAQ, and general pain and global health on visual analogue scales.
Chronic back pain was more frequent in the general population than in patients with RA: 19% of patients with RA and 25% of controls reported chronic back pain (P < 0.001). After 5 years, 57% of these patients initally reporting pain and 58% of controls still reported chronic back pain. In community controls with and without chronic back pain, the median HAQ, general pain and global health were 0.13 vs 0.00, 28 vs 6 and 28 vs 11, respectively (P < 0.001). The figures were 0.88 vs 0.63 (P = 0.05), 42 vs 26 and 42 vs 30 (P < 0.001), respectively, in patients with RA. All analyses were adjusted for age and sex.
Chronic back pain does not occur more frequently in patients with RA than in the general population. Almost 60% of patients and controls who reported chronic back pain still reported it 5 years later. In patients with RA and in the control population, subjects with chronic back pain had worse functional capacity, general pain and global health.