Comorbid subjective health complaints in patients with sciatica: a prospective study including comparison with the general population.

Department of Rheumatology, Østfold Hospital Trust, Fredrikstad, Norway.
Journal of psychosomatic research (Impact Factor: 2.84). 06/2011; 70(6):548-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.11.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Chronic nonspecific low back pain is accompanied by high rates of comorbid mental and physical conditions. The aims of this study were to investigate if patients with specific back pain, that is, sciatica caused by lumbar herniation, report higher rates of subjective health complaints (SHCs) than the general population and if there is an association between change in sciatica symptoms and change in SHCs over a 12-month period.
A multicenter cohort study of 466 sciatica patients was conducted with follow-up at 3 months and 1 year. Comorbid SHCs were measured by 27 items of the SHC inventory. Odds ratios (ORs) for each SHC were calculated with comparison to a general population sample (n=928) by logistic regression. The SHC number was calculated by summing all complaints present.
At baseline, the ORs for reporting SHCs for the sciatica patients were significantly elevated in 15 of the 27 items with a mean (S.D.) SHC number of 7.5 (4.4), compared to 5.2 (4.4) in the general population (P<.01). Among those who during the 1-year follow-up period fully recovered from their sciatica, the SHC number was reduced to normal levels. Among those with persisting or worsening sciatica, the number increased to a level almost double that of the general population.
Compared to the general population, the prevalence of subjective health complaints in sciatica is increased. During follow-up, the number of health complaints increased in patients with persisting or worsening sciatica.

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