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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders 1/2017

Associations between sarcopenia and degenerative lumbar scoliosis in older women

Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2017
Yawara Eguchi, Munetaka Suzuki, Hajime Yamanaka, Hiroshi Tamai, Tatsuya Kobayashi, Sumihisa Orita, Kazuyo Yamauchi, Miyako Suzuki, Kazuhide Inage, Kazuki Fujimoto, Hirohito Kanamoto, Koki Abe, Yasuchika Aoki, Tomoaki Toyone, Tomoyuki Ozawa, Kazuhisa Takahashi, Seiji Ohtori



Age-related sarcopenia can cause various forms of physical disabilities. We investigated how sarcopenia affects degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) and lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSCS).


Subjects comprised 40 elderly women (mean age 74 years) with spinal disease whose chief complaints were low back pain and lower limb pain. They included 15 cases of DLS (mean 74.8 years) and 25 cases of LSCS (mean age 72.9 years).
We performed whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to analyze body composition, including appendicular and trunk skeletal muscle mass index (SMI; lean mass (kg)/height (m)2) and bone mineral density (BMD). A diagnostic criterion for sarcopenia was an appendicular SMI <5.46. To check spinal alignment, lumbar scoliosis (LS), sagittal vertical axis (SVA), thoracic kyphosis (TK), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic tilt (PT), pelvic incidence (PI), sacral slope (SS), and vertebral rotational angle (VRA) were measured. Clinical symptoms were determined from the Japanese Orthopedic Association scores, low back pain visual analog scale, and Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RDQ). Criteria for DLS were lumbar scoliosis >10° and a sagittal vertical axis (SVA) >50 mm. Sarcopenia prevalence, correlations between spinal alignment, BMD, and clinical symptoms with appendicular and trunk SMIs, and correlation between spinal alignment and clinical symptoms were investigated.


DLS cases had significantly lower body weight, BMI, lean mass arm, and total lean mass than LSCS cases. Sarcopenia prevalence rates were 4/25 cases (16%) in LSCS and 7/15 cases (46.6%) in DLS, revealing a high prevalence in DLS. Appendicular SMIs were DLS 5.61 and LSCS 6.13 (p < 0.05), and trunk SMIs were DLS 6.91 and LSCS 7.61 (p < 0.01) showing DLS to have significantly lower values than LSCS. Spinal alignment correlations revealed the appendicular SMI was negatively correlated with PT (p < 0.05) and the trunk SMI was found to have a significant negative correlation with SVA, PT, LS, and VRA (p < 0.05). The trunk SMI was found to have a significant positive correlation with BMD (p < 0.05). As for clinical symptoms, RDQ was negatively correlated with appendicular SMI and positively correlated with PT (P < 0.05).


Sarcopenia complications were noted in 16% of LSCS patients and a much higher percentage, or 46.6%, of DLS patients. Appendicular and trunk SMIs were both lower in DLS, suggesting that sarcopenia may be involved in scoliosis. The appendicular skeletal muscle was related to posterior pelvic tilt, while the trunk muscle affected stooped posture, posterior pelvic tilt, lumbar scoliosis, and vertebral rotation. Decreases in trunk muscle mass were also associated with osteoporosis. Moreover, RDQ had a negative correlation with appendicular skeletal muscle mass and a positive correlation with PT, suggesting that sarcopenia may be associated with low back pain as a result of posterior pelvic tilt. Our research reveals for the first time how sarcopenia is involved in spinal deformations, suggesting decreases in pelvic/lumbar support structures such as trunk and appendicular muscle mass may be involved in the progression of spinal deformities and increased low back pain.
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