Associations between radiographic lumbar spinal stenosis and clinical symptoms in the general population: the Wakayama Spine Study

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Jun;21(6):783-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2013.02.656. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


Objective: Many asymptomatic individuals have radiographic lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), but the prevalence of symptoms among individuals with radiographic LSS has not yet been established. The purpose of this study was to clarify the association between radiographic LSS and clinical symptoms in the general population.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, data from 938 participants (308 men, 630 women; mean age, 66.3 years; range, 40-93 years) were analyzed. The severity of radiographic LSS, including central stenosis, lateral stenosis, and foraminal stenosis, was assessed by mobile magnetic resonance imaging and rated qualitatively. Assessment of clinical symptoms was based on the definition of symptomatic LSS in the North American Spine Society guideline.

Results: We found that 77.9% of participants had more than moderate central stenosis and 30.4% had severe central stenosis. Logistic regression analysis after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, and severity of radiographic LSS showed that severe central stenosis was related to clinical symptoms. However, only 17.5% of the participants with severe central stenosis were symptomatic.

Conclusion: Although radiographic LSS was common in our cohort, which resembled the general Japanese population, symptomatic persons were relatively uncommon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Spinal Stenosis* / diagnosis
  • Spinal Stenosis* / epidemiology