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Kyphosis in older women and its relation to back pain, disability and osteopenia: the study of osteoporotic fractures

updated

Tags: back pain, counter-intuitive, biomechanics, pain problems, spine, etiology, pro

One article on PainSci cites Ettinger 1994: Does Posture Correction Matter?

PainSci notes on Ettinger 1994:

Posture is widely assumed to be a cause of pain, especially back pain, but even one of the most classic poor postures — kyphosis, excessive upper back curvature, “hunching over” — doesn’t seem to cause any trouble. In this study of 600 older women, not even the 10% with the worst kyphosis had “substantial chronic back pain, disability, or poor health.”

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

To test the hypothesis that thoracic kyphosis is associated with substantial pain, disability, and height loss, we measured thoracic curvature, using an architect's flexicurve, of 610 women aged 65-91 years who were recruited from population-based listings. We assessed study subjects for back pain, back-related disability, height loss since age 25 years, perceived state of health, and bone mineral density (BMD) at the spine, calcaneus, proximal radius, and distal radius. Compared with the rest of the cohort, the 10% of women with the most severe kyphosis had 7%-17% lower BMD (p < 0.001) and had lost an additional 2.4 cm height (p < 0.001). However, kyphotic women had no greater back pain, disability caused by back problems, or poorer health. This cross-sectional study suggests that kyphosis is associated with decreased BMD and loss of height but does not cause substantial chronic back pain, disability, or poor health in older women.

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