MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Una Makris MD, MSc
Clinical Investigator at the VA North Texas Health System
VA North Texas Health Care System
Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center
Departments on Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences
Dr. Makris is a Rheumatologist, clinically, and spends the majority of time focused on clinical research investigating how to improve outcomes for adults with back pain.
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Back pain is the most common type of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain. We know that expenditures for back pain exceed $100 billion each year (and this was in 2005). Back pain results in tremendous disability (including reduced mobility) and impaired quality of life (not exclusive to physical consequences, but also including important psychosocial repercussions). We also know that statins are prescribed very often, and frequently in younger populations who are active. Some reports suggest that statins may have a protective effect on musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In this study we sought to evaluate the association of statin use with risk of being diagnosed with a back disorder (including spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders and other back problems).
We used data from TRICARE— the health care insurance for the Department of Defense. In order to adjust for potential confounders, we created a propensity score based on 115 baseline characteristics and matched 6728 statin users with 6728 nonusers.
The main findings of our study are that statin users had a higher likelihood of back disorders (OR 1.27 (95% CI 1.19-1.36)). The number needed to be exposed for an additional harm was 17. All secondary analyses showed similar results.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our results challenge prior work showing a protective effect of statins on musculoskeletal conditions. Some of these adverse effects can greatly impact day to day quality of life for our patients. Especially for younger adults, who may be more physically active, we must weigh the benefits and risks of statin therapy.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Further prospective studies are needed to better understand the mechanism of how statins can contribute to back disorder diagnoses.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Dr. Makris is a VA HSR&D Career Development awardee at the Dallas VA. Dr. Alvarez was supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (K08 DK101602). Dr. Mortensen was supported in part by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R24 HS022418) and the University of Texas Southwestern Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, or the U.S. Government.
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Makris UE, Alvarez CA, Wei W, Mortensen EM, Mansi IA. Association of Statin Use With Risk of Back Disorder Diagnoses. JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 01, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1068
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