Knee OA and the Motion of the Spine

13 July 2018

The Study: Influence of spinal imbalance on knee osteoarthritis in community-living elderly adults.

Hopefully, most of us recognize that the spine has three main functions:

  • Protect the spinal cord, nerve roots and several of the body’s internal organs.
  • Provide structural support and balance to maintain an upright posture.
  • Enable flexible motion.

Anytime you have limp or unequal leg lengths or injured knee, your gait is imbalanced and, therefore, your spinal will become immobile and stiff.  An immobile or stiff spine is often caused by knee issues.

This is a particularly interesting research paper because it reported on the effects of osteoarthritis (OA) total spinal alignment, spinal range of motion and knee osteoarthritis (OA).

The Facts:

a.  The study looked at 170 subjects with a mean age of 69.4.  (This is a good sized study group.)

b. While they used radiographs to measure knee OA, they also measured both spinal motion and alignment using a surface method.

c. “The spinal inclination angle is the most important factor associated with knee OA, although spinal ROM is also associated with knee OA. Decreased lumbar lordosis and lumbar ROM is related to increased spinal inclination angle.”

Take Home Message:

I was not surprised to see an association of spinal alignment and spinal motion to knee OA. I would expect to see mechanical stresses produced by spinal malalignment have an effect on the supporting structures below it. Just as any tilting of a skyscraper would have an effect on its foundation.

It should be understood that foot/ankle/knee/hip misalignment can have just as much influence on back pain as an injury or trauma from improper lifting.

Keep this study in mind when you have pain after wearing those one dollar sponge flip-flops that break down the arches of the foot (forcing the foot into inversion or eversion), don’t support the talus or ankles, and cause the knee to internally rotate.

Reference: Tauchi R, Imagama S, Muramoto A, Tsuboi M, Ishiguro N, Hasegawa Y. Influence of spinal imbalance on knee osteoarthritis in community-living elderly adults. Nagoya J Med Sci. 2015 Aug;77(3):329-37

Link to Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26412878

Synopsis of Research Readings:  Dr. Gary Pribble, AdvanTech Chiropractic, 1000 23rd Street Bettendorf, Iowa (563) 355-2378

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