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Since 1948, residents of Framingham, Mass., have been subjected to all manner of inconveniences in the name of science. The Framingham Heart Study (FHS) has examined volunteers there every two years, and data used during examination #22 (1992-1993) were used for a first-ever study on the contribution of back symptoms to overall physical disability in older adults.

Of the 1,710 surviving members from the original 5,209 taking part in the FHS, 1,007 contributed data on back symptoms.

Subjects ranged in age from 70 to 100, and were surveyed regarding pain, aching and stiffness. Researchers then asked subjects about their difficulty in standing in place for 15 minutes; walking half a mile; stooping, crouching or kneeling; lifting a 10-pound object; entering and exiting an automobile; pushing or pulling a large object; putting on socks or stockings; extending arms above shoulder level; and writing, handling or manipulating small objects. Any of these activities was classified as a "functional limitation" if it could not be performed or performed with difficulty.

In all subjects, 18 percent to 34 percent of all functional limitations were attributable to back problems; moreover, women seemed particularly affected by these limitations.

Don't let back pain limit you! Your doctor of chiropractic can help your spine "make friends" with the nine activities listed above.


Edmond SL, Felson DT. Function and back symptoms in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society December 2003:51(12), pp1702-1709.

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