Libyan Journal of Medicine

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Prevalence and risk factors of low back pain among undergraduate students of a sports and physical education institute in Tunisia

M Triki, A Koubaa, L Masmoudi, N Fellmann, Z Tabka


Introduction: For obvious reasons, athletes are at greater risk of sustaining a lumber (lower) spine injury due to physical activity. To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) in a Tunisian sports and physical education institute.
Aim: To assess the prevalence of LBP in different sports among students studying in a sports and physical education institute in Tunisia, to determine the causes of the injuries, and to propose solutions.
Methods: A total of 3,379 boys and 2,579 girls were studied. A retrospective cross-sectional survey was conducted on a group of students aged 18.524.5 years at the Higher Institute of Sport and Physical Education of Sfax to estimate the prevalence of LBP and its relation to the type of sports. Data on age, weight, height, smoking, and the sport in which the student was injured in the low back were collected from the institute health service records from 2005 until 2013.
Results: LBP was reported by 879 of the 5,958 study participants (14.8%). The prevalence of LBP was significantly higher (pB0.001) in females (17.6%) than in males (12.5%). LBP prevalence did not differ by body mass index or smoking habit (p0.05). The sports associated with the higher rates of LBP were gymnastics, judo, handball, and volleyball, followed by basketball and athletics.
Conclusion: LBP is frequent among undergraduate students of a sports and physical education institute in Tunisia. It is strongly associated with fatigue after the long periods of training in different sports. Gymnastics, judo, handball, and volleyball were identified as high-risk sports for causing LBP.

Keywords: low back pain; sports students; sports training; risk factors
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