Using self-reports of pain and other variables to distinguish between older women with back pain due to vertebral fractures and those with back pain due to degenerative changes

Emma M Clark*, Rachael Gooberman-Hill, Tim J Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Summary

Women with back pain and vertebral fractures describe different pain experiences than women without vertebral fractures, particularly a shorter duration of back pain, crushing pain and pain that improves on lying down. This suggests a questionnaire could be developed to identify older women who may have osteoporotic vertebral fractures.

Introduction

Approximately 12 % of postmenopausal women have vertebral fractures (VFs), but less than a third come to clinical attention. Distinguishing back pain likely to relate to VF from other types of back pain may ensure appropriate diagnostic radiographs, leading to treatment initiation. This study investigated whether characteristics of back pain in women with VF are different from those in women with no VFs.

Methods

A case control study was undertaken with women aged ≥60 years who had undergone thoracic spinal radiograph in the previous 3 months. Cases were defined as those with VFs identified using the algorithm-based qualitative (ABQ) method. Six hundred eighty-three potential participants were approached. Data were collected by self-completed questionnaire including the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Chi-squared tests assessed univariable associations; logistic regression identified independent predictors of VFs. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to evaluate the ability of the combined independent predictors to differentiate between women with and without VFs via area under the curve (AUC) statistics.

Results

One hundred ninety-seven women participated: 64 cases and 133 controls. Radiographs of controls were more likely to show moderate/severe degenerative change than cases (54.1 vs 29.7 %, P = 0.011). Independent predictors of VF were older age, history of previous fracture, shorter duration of back pain, pain described as crushing, pain improving on lying down and pain not spreading down the legs. AUC for combination of these factors was 0.85 (95 % CI 0.79 to 0.92).

Conclusion

We present the first evidence that back pain experienced by women with osteoporotic VF is different to back pain related solely to degenerative change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1467
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoporosis International
Volume27
Issue number4
Early online date13 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Back pain
  • Case control study
  • Osteoporotic vertebral fracture
  • Self-reported pain descriptors

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