Australian pain researchers reviewed case histories of some 7500 young, mid-age and older women who were a part of Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health and followed them for up to four years.
The results showed that women with preexisting incontinence, breathing difficulties and gastrointestinal disorders were more likely to develop back pain than women without these afflictions.
The prevalence of new back pain found in the study participants was 37 percent in the younger group, 39 percent for the mid-age women and 16 percent in the older group.
The authors noted it was clear from their data that associations between incontinence and respiratory disorders and back pain were attributable to changes in control of trunk muscles occurring over time.
For instance, frequent sneezing and coughing caused by allergies are associated with trunk muscle co-contraction and increased spinal loading, which can lead to back pain.
Regarding the relationship of gastrointestinal problems and back pain, the authors explained that altered abdominal muscle activity is common in disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, and back pain may be a symptom of gastrointestinal problems.
The implications of the findings for treatment options could focus on improving trunk muscle control to reduce potential for developing back pain.
The study appears in The Journal of Pain, the peer review publication of the American Pain Society.