We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess lumbar lordosis in 27 patients with low back pain and 19 patients and 10 volunteers with no known back pain. Our study aimed to investigate whether lordosis changes with age and is reduced in those with low back pain. Although our results confirm known observations that lumbar lordosis is more prominent in women (P < 0.01) and those with a higher body mass index (P < 0.04), we were unable to demonstrate any significant variation in lordosis with age. Nor could we demonstrate any difference in the degree of lordosis among women with or without back pain. Men with low back pain tended to have a less prominent lordosis, but this difference did not reach statistical significance. Therefore, a 'reduced lumbar lordosis' should be regarded as a very weak clinical sign.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.