Where much is known about the consequences of spinal and low back pain (LBP) during military deployments, there is lesser knowledge of risk factors for LBP among the deployed forces. The objective of this study was to identify deployment-related exposures associated with LBP. The study was a questionnaire-based cohort study among 1,931 Danish soldiers deployed to Iraq. Of the 680 respondents, 175 (26%) reported LBP. The population of respondents was adjusted for potential nonresponse bias. The associations between LBP and explanatory variables were analyzed using ordinal logistic regression models. Older age (p = 0.016), support from leaders (odds ratio [OR] = 1.69, p = 0.019), psychological stress (OR = 1.71, p = 0.009), awkward working positions (OR = 1.98, p = 0.001), and working in depots or storehouses (OR = 2.60, p = 0.041) were found to be associated with LBP after adjustment of all other variables. Combat and exposure to work, sport, or traffic accidents were not associated with LBP in this study, which was attributed to the characteristics of the actual mission. Preventive measures should include predeployment preparation of leaders to cope with LBP and other musculoskeletal trouble among their subordinates and involve medical personnel, especially deployed physiotherapists, by giving advice to soldiers of different military occupational specialties on how to optimize ergonomics at work.
Military Medicine, 2014, Vol 179, Issue 4, p. 451-8