The Kinematics and Spondylosis of the Lumbar Spine Vary Depending on the Levels of Motion Segments in Individuals With Low Back Pain

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Study Design.

A prospective cohort study.


The aim of this study was to identify associations of spondylotic and kinematic changes with low back pain (LBP).

Summary of Background Data.

The ability to characterize and differentiate the biomechanics of both the symptomatic and asymptomatic lumbar spine is crucial to alleviate the sparse literature on the association of lumbar spine biomechanics and LBP.


Lumbar dynamic plain radiographs (flexion-extension), dynamic computed tomography (CT) scanning (axial rotation, disc height), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, disc and facet degeneration grades) were obtained for each subject. These parameters were compared between symptomatic and control groups using Student t test and multivariate logistic regression, which controlled for patient age and sex and identified spinal parameters that were independently associated with symptomatic LBP. Disc grade and mean segmental motion by level were tested by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).


Ninety-nine volunteers (64 asymptomatic/35 LBP) were prospectively recruited. Mean age was 37.3 ± 10.1 years and 55% were male. LBP showed association with increased L5/S1 translation [odds ratio (OR) 1.63 per mm, P = 0.005], decreased flexion-extension motion at L1/L2 (OR 0.87 per degree, P = 0.036), L2/L3 (OR 0.88 per degree, P = 0.036), and L4/L5 (OR 0.87 per degree, P = 0.020), increased axial rotation at L4/L5 (OR 2.11 per degree, P = 0.032), decreased disc height at L3/L4 (OR 0.52 per mm, P = 0.008) and L4/L5 (OR 0.37 per mm, p < 0.001), increased disc grade at all levels (ORs 2.01–12.33 per grade, P = 0.001–0.026), and increased facet grade at L4/L5 (OR 4.99 per grade, P = 0.001) and L5/S1 (OR 3.52 per grade, P = 0.004). Significant associations were found between disc grade and kinematic parameters (flexion-extension motion, axial rotation, and translation) at L4/L5 (P = 0.001) and L5/S1 (P < 0.001), but not at other levels (P > 0.05).


In symptomatic individuals, L4/L5 and L5/S1 levels were affected by spondylosis and kinematic changes. This study clarifies the relationships between kinematic alterations and LBP, mostly observed at the above-mentioned segments.


Level of Evidence: N/A

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