IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 4598: Neighborhood Walkability in Relation to Knee and Low Back Pain in Older People: A Multilevel Cross-Sectional Study from the JAGES (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Few studies have focused on a relationship between the built environment and musculoskeletal pain. This study aimed to investigate an association between neighborhood walkability and knee and low back pain in older people. Data were derived from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) 2013, a population-based study of independently living people ≥65 years old. A cross-sectional multilevel analysis was performed, of 22,892 participants in 792 neighborhoods. Neighborhood walkability was assessed by residents’ perceptions and population density. Dependent variables were knee and low back pain restricting daily activities within the past year. The prevalence of knee pain was 26.2% and of low back pain 29.3%. After adjusting for sociodemographic covariates, the prevalence ratio (PR) of knee and low back pain was significantly lower in neighborhoods with better access to parks and sidewalks, good access to fresh food stores, and higher population densities. After additionally adjusting for population density, easier walking in neighborhoods without slopes or stairs was significantly inversely correlated with knee pain (PR 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.85–0.99). Neighborhoods with walkability enhanced by good access to parks and sidewalks and fresh food stores, easy walking without slopes or stairs, and high population densities, had lower prevalences of knee and low back pain among older people. Further studies should examine environmental determinants of pain.