Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH) and Impaired Physical Function: The Rancho Bernardo Study

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Investigate associations of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) with self-reported and measured physical function in older adults.


Cross-sectional analyses of data collected in 1992–96 from a longitudinal cohort. Setting: Research clinic within a community.


Community-dwelling men (n = 630) and women (n = 961), mean age 71.5 years (SD = 10.8), from the Rancho Bernardo Study.


DISH assessed from lateral thoracic and lumbar spine radiographs; self-reported difficulty bending over to the floor, walking 2–3 level blocks, or climbing 1 flight of stairs; performance-based measures of grip strength and chair-stand testing (ability to stand up and sit down in a chair 5 times without using chair arms).


DISH was present in 25.6% of men and 5.5% of women. In age and sex-adjusted models, those with DISH had 1.72-fold increased odds (95% CI: 1.13, 2.62) of self-reported difficulty bending; this remained significant after further adjustment for Cobb angle, weight, stroke, arthritis, and exercise, OR = 1.69, (95% CI: 1.07, 2.66). In fully adjusted multivariate models, those with DISH had worse grip strength, −1.08 kg, P = .01, but did not differ from those without DISH on walking or climbing stairs. In sex-stratified, fully adjusted models, among men only, those with DISH were 2.17-times (95% CI: 1.04, 4.52) more likely to be unable to complete 5 chair stands without using their arms.


DISH was less prevalent in women but affected almost one-quarter of older white men. People with DISH are more likely to experience physical functional impairment, suggesting that DISH has clinical correlations and is not an incidental radiographic finding.

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