Hyperlordosis is Associated With Facet Joint Pathology at the Lower Lumbar Spine

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Abstract

Study Design:

A retrospective study.

Objective:

Our study opted to clarify the remaining issues of lumbar lordosis (LL) with regard to (1) its physiological values, (2) age, (3) sex, and (4) facet joint (FJ) arthritis and orientation using computed tomography (CT) scans.

Summary of Background Data:

Recent studies have questioned whether LL really decreases with age, but study sample sizes have been rather small and mostly been based on x-rays. As hyperlordosis increases the load transferred through the FJs, it seems plausible that hyperlordosis may lead to FJ arthritis at the lower lumbar spine.

Methods:

We retrospectively analyzed the CT scans of 620 individuals, with a mean age of 42.5 (range, 14–94) years, who presented to our traumatology department and underwent a whole-body CT scan, between 2008 and 2010. LL was evaluated between the superior endplates of L1 and S1. FJs of the lumbar spine were evaluated for arthritis and orientation between L2 and S1.

Results:

(1) The mean LL was 49.0 degrees (SD 11.1 degrees; range, 11.4–80.1 degrees). (2) LL increased with age and there was a significant difference in LL in our age groups (30 y and below, 31–50, 51–70, and ≥71 y and above) (P=0.02). (3) There was no significant difference in LL between females and males (50 and 49 degrees) (P=0.17). (4) LL showed a significant linear association with FJ arthritis [P=0.0026, OR=1.022 (1.008–1.036)] and sagittal FJ orientation at L5/S1 (P=0.001). In a logistic regression analysis, the cutoff point for LL was 49.4 degrees.

Conclusions:

This is the largest CT-based study on LL and FJs. LL significantly increases with age. As a novelty finding, hyperlordosis is significantly associated with FJ arthritis and sagittal FJ orientation at the lower lumbar spine. Thus, hyperlordosis may present with back pain and patients may benefit from surgical correction, for example, in the setting of trauma.

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