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The Shape of a Spine Predicts Osteoarthritis Risk

Facet joint osteoarthritis (OA) is a common x-ray finding, especially in patients with low back pain.  It’s usually associated with a history of trauma or longstanding mechanical stress, but a new study says the shape of the spine itself is a big factor.

Spinal CT scans of 723 patients were reviewed after excluding those who had surgery or serious congenital abnormalities.  The researchers measured the amount of facet joint degeneration, as well as measures of spinal structure and function including pelvic incidence, sacral slope and table, lumbar lordosis, sacral table and kyphosis and the L5 vertebra posterior.


Osteoarthritic patients had significantly higher:

  • Sacral slope and kyphosis
  • Lumbar lordosis angles
  • ALSO: the joint degeneration increased with the measurements increased

Meanwhile, osteoarthritic patients also had significantly lower:

  • L5 vertebra posterior angle and sacral table angle
  • ALSO: the joint degeneration increased with as the measurements decreased.

Dr. Weiniger’s Observation:  It looks like structures have less mechanical stress and breakdown when structures work closer to their functional centerline.  And the further from centerline, the greater stress, which is more support for training the postural masses (or PostureZones) towards symmetry and proper alignment.


Sahin, M. S., Ergün, A., & Aslan, A. (2015). THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE LUMBAR FACET JOINTS AND LUMBOSACROPELVIC MORPHOLOGY. Spine. doi:10.1097/BRS.0000000000001070  Retrieved from


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