Low back pain has become a public health issue in the United States. It accounts for many cases of job absenteeism and recurrent treatment expenses.
Many of my hypermobility patients experience or have experienced some low back pain.
This is one of the reasons why we tend to think they necessarily go together.
In this post, I go through a research article that looks into the relationship of joint hypermobility with low back pain and lumbar spine and osteoarthritis.
Title of the article
RELATIONSHIP OF JOINT HYPERMOBILITY WITH LOW BACK PAIN AND LUMBAR SPINE OSTEOARTHRITIS
Goode, A.P., Cleveland, R.J., Schwartz, T.A. et al. Relationship of joint hypermobility with low Back pain and lumbar spine osteoarthritis. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 20, 158 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-2523-2
Summary of The Article:
This review article looks to determine if there is a link between chronic low back pain and joint hypermobility by analyzing three large studies.
These research articles looked at the association of joint hypermobility and forward bending, with chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis of the low back, which was estimated using statistical models.
They did not find hypermobility associated with chronic low back pain and lumbar osteoarthritis. They discovered that trunk flexion was inversely associated with chronic low back pain and spinal osteoarthritis.
This means that people who had a better ability to bend forward and touch their toes had less chronic low back pain and back arthritis.
What This Study Means to You
The good news is you may not be at a higher risk for chronic back pain or arthritis because you have hypermobility.
Flexibility as you age, such as being able to bend forward and touch the floor, decreases your risk for symptomatic arthritis.
Limitations and Considerations of This Study:
The article looks at data from 3 large studies. Women of childbearing age were excluded from x-rays in 1 study. They also feature minimal representation of minorities.
They did not look at all the symptomatic population, but inclusion was related to hand arthritis only.
Finally, researchers might not have picked up on older individuals who may have previously had hypermobility but no longer qualified through the Beighton scale (as flexibility decreases with age).
Your Take-Home Summary:
You need to take care of your back. Everyone is at risk for back issues.
If you experience low back pain that isn’t necessarily related to your hypermobility, and your hypermobility doesn’t put you at a higher risk of developing lower back osteoarthritis.
Actually, your increased flexibility could be a protective factor while aging and developing low back issues related to osteoarthritis.