OBJECTIVES: To establish if there is evidence in the literature for a causal link between alcohol consumption and low-back pain.
Data Sources: Nine original research reports published between 1987 and 1995 were obtained through a MEDLINE search for the years 1992 to 1998, with various combinations of the terms "alcohol," "substance abuse," "life-style, " "risk factor," "epidemiology" and "low back pain." An additional manual search was made of relevant bibliographies without limitation for year of publication.
Data Synthesis: A systematic review was made of the epidemiologic literature to uncover any evidence for a causal relation between alcohol consumption and low-back pain.
RESULTS: None of the studies reported a positive link between alcohol consumption and low-back pain, and no positive gradient was found in studies that included an analysis of the dose-response. None of the studies was prospective in design.
CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol consumption does not seem to be associated with low-back pain, but well-designed specific alcohol/low-back pain-centered studies are lacking.
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