Body mass, nonspecific low back pain, and anatomical changes in the lumbar spine in judo athletes

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2007 Nov;37(11):688-93. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2007.2505.


Study design: Cross-sectional study of a specific population.

Objectives: To investigate the prevalence and coprevalence of nonspecific low back pain (nsLBP) and lumbar radiological abnormalities (LRA) in judo athletes.

Background: nsLBP and LRA occur frequently in judo athletes. High body mass has been reported to be associated with both nsLBP and LRA.

Methods and measures: The subjects comprised 82 male judo athletes (mean +/- SD age, 20.1 +/- 0.9 years) from 3 weight categories: lightweight (n = 29), middleweight (n= 31), and heavyweight (n = 22). The presence of nsLBP was evaluated using a questionnaire. LRA were examined using plain-film radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging. The prevalence of nsLBP and LRA were compared among weight categories.

Results: The prevalence of nsLBP in the lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight categories was 34.5%, 32.3%, and 40.9%, respectively. For LRA, prevalence for the 3 weight categories was 65.5%, 90.3%, and 90.9%, respectively (middle-weight and heavyweight greater prevalence than lightweight [P<.05]). The prevalence of LRA in athletes with nsLBP in each category was 50.0%, 100%, and 88.9%, respectively (middleweight greater prevalence than lightweight [P<.05]). The prevalence of LRA in athletes without nsLBP in each category was 73.7%, 85.7%, and 92.3%, respectively.

Conclusions: The prevalence of LRA was approximately 90% in the middleweight and heavyweight categories, which was greater than for the lightweight category. There was a large coprevalence of nsLBP and LRA. However, many judo athletes without nsLBP had LRA. The presence of LRA may not have a direct association with nsLBP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Martial Arts / injuries*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prevalence
  • Radiography
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires