Spondylolysis Associated with Degenerative Joints in the Spine

Spondylolysis is defined as a defect or stress fracture in the pars interarticularis of the vertebral arch. While the cause of spondylolysis is unknown, many factors are thought to contribute to its development. A recent study set out to determine the effects of this condition on the facet joints in the lumbar spine, which help make it possible to flex, twist, and bend. Researchers evaluated the radiographs of 107 patients with L5 spondylolysis and compared them with those of individuals without the condition and found that the patients with lumbar spondylolysis had more severe degenerative changes of the facet joints than those without spondylolysis. The findings suggest that individuals with spondylolysis are at a greater risk for developing degenerative joint issues in the lumbar spine. —Clinical Spine Surgery, July 2017

Multisite Musculoskeletal Pain in Adolescence May Predict Medical and Social Issues

Norwegian researchers report that teenagers with pain in multiple body sites have an elevated risk for life-affecting health problems during young adulthood. In this study, researchers followed 3,987 teens for an average of eight years and found a positive relationship between the number of pain sites the participants reported at age 15 or 16 and how much they utilized medical or social benefits during their early 20s. The authors conclude, “Adolescents with multisite musculoskeletal pain are at substantially increased risk of health and social difficulties into young adulthood. Identification and interventions for these adolescent problems could alleviate this risk and be a sound socioeconomic investment.”
—European Journal of Pain, July 2017

Smartphone Use Affects Posture

Using surface electromyography and a digital camera, researchers investigated changes in posture and muscle activation among 18 participants while they interacted with their electronic device. The results revealed that smartphone use induced a more flexed posture on the neck and trunk compared with desktop computer use. The researchers also found that participants began to experience neck and back pain if they used their smartphone for longer than 15 minutes. The findings suggest that healthcare providers should consider the influences of smartphone use in posture and muscle activity in the evaluation,intervention, and prevention of neck and trunk conditions. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, June 2017

Tight Hamstrings Associated with Low Back Pain

In this study, researchers matched 30 individuals suffering from low back pain with 30 participants of the same height and weight without low back pain. The investigators then measured the participants’ hamstring length and found that those without low back pain had significantly longer hamstrings than the individuals with low back pain. The findings suggest that reduced hamstring length may be either a contributor or the result of low back pain. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, June 2017

Different Back Pain Risk Factors Among Men and Women

Brazilian researchers analyzed data from a 2013 National Health Survey and found that 18.5% of the Brazilian population suffers from chronic back pain. Among men, risk factors for chronic back pain include: 65 years or older; low education level; living in rural area; history of smoking, high salt intake, heavy physical activity at work or home; being overweight or obese; hypertension; high cholesterol; and worse overall health. Among women, the researchers found the following risk factors for chronic back pain: 55-64 years of age; low education level; history of smoking, regular candy consumption, high salt intake, heavy physical activity at work or at home; overweight or obese; hypertension, high cholesterol; and worse health assessment. Public Health Magazine (Brazil), June 2017