Background The prevalence of spinal pain or back pain among Africans may be comparable to that reported in research undertaken in developed nations. However, studies evaluating the epidemiological characteristics of spinal pain are rare in sub-Saharan Africa (1).
Objectives To determine the main epidemiological characteristics of spinal pain in a tertiary healthcare center in Cameroon, sub-Saharan Africa;
To describe the profile of specific spinal pain found in Cameroon.
Methods We performed a cross-sectional study among outpatients seen in Rheumatology consultation at Douala General Hospital, Cameroon, between January 2004 and December 2013. All patients followed for spinal pain (pain experienced in all the regions of the spine) were screened.
Results During the study period, 7024 patients were seen in Rheumatology Department but only 6804 cases (4433 women and 2371 men) were selected for analysis because it had a clearly defined rheumatic disease. The mean age of patients was 52.3±14.3 years. The mean body mass index was 29.3 kg/m2±5.1, with 5194 patients with overweight and obesity.
The main reason for consultation concerned the peripheral skeleton in 3230 patients (47.5%) and 3574 (52.5%) in the axial skeleton. The pain was present in all patients with axial involvement and was localized in the lumbar spine in 3008 patients (84.2%) [Table 1].
Most cases are nonspecific, but in 223 (6.2%) of cases a specific cause was suspected, especially of infectious origin (Table 2). Indeed, 64 cases of infectious spondylodiscitis were collected. Tuberculosis was suspected in the majority of patients, but only one case had been documented.
Conclusions Spinal pain, especially in the lumbar region of the spine is the main location of pain in Rheumatology in Cameroon. The infectious and inflammatory etiologies are rare.
Louw QA et al. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2007;8:105.
Disclosure of Interest None declared