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


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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Correspondence to B. Ettinger MD.

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Ettinger, B., Black, D.M., Palermo, L. et al. Kyphosis in older women and its relation to back pain, disability and osteopenia: The study of osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporosis Int 4, 55–60 (1994).

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  • Aging
  • Kyphosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pain measurement
  • Posture
  • Thoracic vertebrae