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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Christensen 2008.

No association between measurements of spinal curves and pain, review

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Tags: etiology, back pain, biomechanics, pro, pain problems, spine

PainSci summary of Christensen 2008?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

This review of more than 50 studies found no association between measurements of spinal curves and pain. The authors’ conclusion was decisive: the evidence “does not support an association between sagittal spinal curves and health including spinal pain.” One can cherry pick the data for a few studies that show some minor correlation, but it averages out to nothing to write home about.

original abstract

OBJECTIVES: The purposes of this study were to (1) determine whether sagittal spinal curves are associated with health in epidemiological studies, (2) estimate the strength of such associations, and (3) consider whether these relations are likely to be causal.

METHODS: A systematic critical literature review of epidemiological (cross-sectional, case-control, cohort) studies published before 2008 including studies identified in the CINAHL, EMBASE, Mantis, and Medline databases was performed using a structured checklist and a quality assessment. Level of evidence analysis was performed as outlined by van Tulder et al (Spine. 2003;28:1290-9), and the strength of associations were determined using the procedure outlined by Hemingway and Marmot (BMJ. 1999;318:1460-7). Quality of the included articles were assessed by our own scoring system based on the STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology checklist. Studies scoring maximum points (4/4 or 3/3) were considered to be of higher quality.

RESULTS: Fifty-four original studies were included. We found no strong evidence for any association between sagittal spinal curves and any health outcomes including spinal pain. The included studies were generally of low methodological quality. There is moderate evidence for association between sagittal spinal curves and 4 health outcomes as follows: temporomandibular disorders (no odds ratios [ORs] provided), pelvic organ prolapse (OR, 3.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.46-96.93), daily function (OR range, 1.8-3.7; 95% CI range, 1.1-6.3), and death (OR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.08-1.91). These associations are however unlikely to be causal.

CONCLUSIONS: Evidence from epidemiological studies does not support an association between sagittal spinal curves and health including spinal pain. Further research of better methodological quality may affect this conclusion, and causal effects cannot be determined in a systematic review.

related content

These two articles on PainScience.com cite Christensen 2008 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: