Open Access Open Badges Research article

Increase of chronic low back pain prevalence in a medium-sized city of southern Brazil

Rodrigo D Meucci1*, Anaclaudia G Fassa1, Vera MV Paniz2, Marcelo C Silva3 and David H Wegman4

Author Affiliations

1 Post-Graduate Program in Epidemiology - Social Medicine Department, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil

2 Post-Graduate Program in Public Health, University of the Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

3 Superior School of Physical Education, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil

4 Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:155  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-155

Published: 1 May 2013



Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a highly disabling morbidity with high social, economic and individual effects. Demographic, occupational and behavioral changes that took place in Brazil over the last decade are related with an increasing burden of chronic conditions. Despite these changes, comparison studies on CLBP prevalence and associated factors, over time are scarce in the literature in general, and unknown in Brazil. The present study compared the CLBP prevalence in a medium sized city in Brazil between the years 2002 and 2010 and examined factors associated with prevalence in 2010.


Two cross-sectional studies with similar methodology were conducted in a medium-sized city in southern Brazil, in 2002 and 2010. 3182 individuals were interviewed in the first study and 2732 in the second one, all adults aged twenty years or more. Those who reported pain for seven weeks or more in the last three months in the lumbar region where considered cases of CLBP.


The CLBP prevalence increased from 4.2% to 9.6% in 8 years. In most of the studied subgroups the CLBP prevalence has at least doubled and the increase was even larger among younger individuals with more years of education and higher economic status.


Increase in CLBP prevalence is worrisome because it is a condition responsible for substantial social impact, besides being an important source of demand for health services.