European Spine Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 452–457 | Cite as

The association between symptom severity and physical activity participation in people seeking care for acute low back pain

  • Juliana Leme GomesEmail author
  • M. Kingma
  • S. J. Kamper
  • C. G. Maher
  • P. H. Ferreira
  • A. P. Marques
  • M. L. Ferreira
Original Article



To investigate the association between symptom severity and physical activity participation in people with acute non-specific low back pain (LBP).


The sample included a total of 999 patients who presented to primary care with an acute episode of low back pain. Symptom severity, in terms of activity limitation and severity of pain; and physical activity participation before (habitual) and after pain onset were assessed using self-report questionnaires. All participants were interviewed within 14 days of pain onset.


At interview most of the participants (87.5 %) reported having moderate to extreme activity limitation due to back pain. There was a significant decrease in physical activity participation after pain onset (mean difference: −176 min, 95 % CI 327–400; p < 0.0001) but no association between habitual or change in physical activity participation and symptom severity was observed (p > 0.21).


Pain onset causes a significant and immediate decrease in physical activity participation, but this change does not seem to be associated with symptom severity.


Physical activity Acute pain Low back pain Activity limitation 



The authors would like to thank Mrs. Anurina Das for helping with data collection.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest. They also would like to state that they have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliana Leme Gomes
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Kingma
    • 1
    • 3
  • S. J. Kamper
    • 1
    • 4
  • C. G. Maher
    • 1
  • P. H. Ferreira
    • 5
  • A. P. Marques
    • 2
  • M. L. Ferreira
    • 1
  1. 1.The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney Medical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Physiotherapy, Speech and Occupational TherapySchool of Medicine, University of Sao PauloSao PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Utrecht University of Applied SciencesUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.The EMGO Institute for Health and Care ResearchVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Faculty of Health SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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