Low Back Pain and Lumbar Spine Osteoarthritis: How Are They Related?
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Lumbar spine osteoarthritis (OA) is very common, with estimates of prevalence ranging from 40–85 %. The process of degeneration of the spine has commonly been classified as OA (disc space narrowing together with vertebral osteophyte formation); however, anatomically, the facet joint is the only synovial joint in the spine that has a similar pathological degenerative process to appendicular joints. Low back pain (LBP) is also a common condition, with nearly 80 % of Americans experiencing at least one episode of LBP in their lifetime. The complex relationship between spine radiographs and LBP has many clinical and research challenges. Specific conservative treatments for spine degeneration have not been established; there has, however, been recent interest in use of exercise therapy, because of some moderate benefits in treating chronic LBP. An understanding of the relationship between spine degeneration and LBP may be improved with further population-based research in the areas of genetics, biomarkers, and pain pathways.