East African Medical Journal

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Association between levels of pain and disability in patients with somatic and neurogenic low back pain at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi County, Kenya

J.N. Ogendi, P.K. Mwaniki, P Wanzala, D.S. Nyamongo, K Mutai


Background: Low Back Pain is a problem of public health importance in developed countries as well as developing ones including Kenya. Low Back Pain, sub-categorized into somatic and neurogenic pain manifests in different unknown levels which have enormous health and socio economic impact. In Kenya, information on levels of pain and disability and how the two affect each other remain scanty.

Objective: To determine the relationship between levels of pain and disability among patients with somatic and neurogenic Low Back Pain at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi County, Kenya.

Design: A cross-sectional study.

Setting: Mbagathi District Hospital from May 2016 to August 2016.

Subjects: All consenting Low Back Pain patients referred for out-patient physiotherapy clinic at Mbagathi District Hospital

Results: Out of 176 participants enrolled in the study, majority, (63.1%) were females compared to 36.9% who were males. The proportion of patients with somatic Low Back Pain was 72.7 %( n=128) compared to 27.3 % (n=48) that had neurogenic Low Back Pain. More than half, 55.7 % (n=98) of the participants had pain intensity of moderate level while the remainder, 44.3 %( n=78) presented with severe pain level. Most respondents, 60.8 %( n=107) had minimal disability level compared to 33.5 %( n=59), and 5.7 %( n=10) whose levels were moderate and severe disability respectively. Results showed significant association between severe pain and moderate and severe disability (P<0.001). Neurogenic pain was also significantly associated with severe and moderate disability (P=0.006).

Conclusion: A great majority of patients attending out-patient physiotherapy clinic presented with somatic Low Back Pain whose disability level was Minimal. A smaller proportion of patients with neurogenic Low Back Pain had moderate and severe disability. Neurogenic pain posed the highest risk of moderate and severe disability.

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