Lumbopelvic Pain and Threats to Walking Ability in Well-Functioning Older Adults: Findings from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging

Eleanor M. Simonsick, Benjamin Aronson, Jennifer A. Schrack, Gregory E. Hicks, Gerald J. Jerome, Kushang V. Patel, Stephanie A. Studenski, Luigi Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine the potential contribution of severity of lumbopelvic pain (LPP) in well-functioning older adults to poorer walking efficiency, lack of endurance, slower gait speed, and decline in these mobility parameters over 1 to 5 years. Design: Longitudinal analysis of Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging data. Setting: National Institute on Aging, Clinical Research Unit, Baltimore, Maryland. Participants: Well-functioning men and women aged 60 to 89 (N=878). Measurements: An interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to ascertain reported presence and severity of back and hip pain in the preceding 12 months and reported walking ability, including ease of walking a mile. Certified examiners assessed usual gait speed, the energetic cost of walking (oxygen consumption, mL per kg/m), and time taken to walk 400 m as quickly as possible. Covariates included sex, age, age-squared, race, height, weight, exercise, and smoking. Results: Overall, 31.4% had mild LPP, and 15.7% had moderate to severe LPP. In adjusted analyses, reported walking ability (p<.001), endurance walk performance (p=.007), and energetic cost of walking (p=.049) were worse with increasing LPP severity. Usual gait speed did not vary according to LPP (p=.31). Longitudinally, over an average 2.3 years, persons with new or sustained LPP had worse follow-up level, greater mean decline, and higher likelihood of meaningful decline in reported walking ability than persons free of LPP or whose LPP resolved. Walking performance did not differ according to LPP follow-up status. Conclusion: LPP was common in well-functioning older adults and was associated with greater energetic cost of walking and poorer perceived and observed walking endurance. The longitudinal effect of LPP is unclear, but worsening perception of walking ability and its contribution to future mobility loss warrants further attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-720
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • back pain
  • energetic cost
  • reported walking ability
  • walking endurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Lumbopelvic Pain and Threats to Walking Ability in Well-Functioning Older Adults: Findings from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this