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Relationship between Gender and Low Back Pain

Is the amount of curve in the low back linked to problems with low back pain (LBP)? We know there's a difference in lumbar curvature between men and women. Is there a difference in LBP based on gender?

Physical therapists measured the lumbar curve in 227 subjects with and without LBP. A special computerized three-dimensional device was used to take the measurements. Five specially trained physical therapists examined the patients with LBP.

Each patient was put in one of three groups. Groups were based on which movements cause pain, including bending forward, bending backward, or twisting (rotating) their trunks. The authors report the following findings:

  • Women have more curve in the low back (lordosis) than men while standing.
  • Men and women with LBP have the same amount of lordosis as men and women without LBP.
  • Patients with certain kinds of LBP have more lordosis than others.
  • Women are more likely to be in the trunk twisting with back bending group.
  • Men are more likely to be in the trunk twisting with forward bending group.

    The authors say that lumbar curve may not be linked to LBP. There was no difference in lordosis between subjects with or without LBP. On the other hand, knowing the patient's gender and the amount of lordosis may be helpful when the person has a certain type of LBP. A physical therapist can use this information in diagnosing the movement-related LBP problem. The focus of treatment may vary depending on the patient's gender and type of LBP.


    Barbara J. Norton, PT, PhD, et al. Differences in Measurements of Lumbar Curvature Related to Gender and Low Back Pain. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. September 2004. Vol. 34. No. 9. Pp. 524-534.

    11/16/2004

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