Central African Journal of Medicine

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Clinical and radiological characteristics of adult black Zimbabweans with low back pain attending a specialist neurosurgery clinic

G Mawera, J.T. Taruvona, J Chirenda


Objectives: To describe the clinical and radiological characteristics of adult black Zimbabweans with Low Back Pain (LBP).

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Harare, Zimbabwe.

Subjects: A random sample of 105 medical records of adult black Zimbabweans that presented to a Neurosurgeon in Harare, Zimbabwe with LBPwas obtained using the stratified sampling technique from a total of 525 medical records.

Results: There were 55 women (52%) and 50 men (48%).The mean age was 47 ± 14 years. Most patients were between20 and 60 years of age (80%) and the mean duration of LBP at presentation was 2 years. A past medical history of trauma, no significant illness in the past, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol was observed in 25%, 38%, 23%, and 44% of the records respectively. The common occupations were: office workers (38%), unemployed (19%), and manual workers (15%). The common radiological diagnoses were: Degenerative Lumbar Spine Disease (DLSD) in 38% and Disc Prolapse (DP) in 33%of the records. Lumbar Vertebral Fractures (LVF) and Facet Joint Arthritis (FJA) accounted for 14% and 10%of the records respectively.

Conclusions: There was a significant delay by adult black Zimbabweans with LBP in presenting to medical practitioners. Having a past medical history of trauma, no history of a major illness, smoking, alcohol, and occupation were common predisposing factors. Radiology revealed that DLSD, DP, LVF, and FJA were common diagnoses.

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