The prevalence of lumbar spine facet joint osteoarthritis and its association with low back pain in selected Korean populations

Clin Orthop Surg. 2014 Dec;6(4):385-91. doi: 10.4055/cios.2014.6.4.385. Epub 2014 Nov 10.


Background: This study was to evaluate the association of lumbar spine facet joint osteoarthritis (LSFJOA) identified by multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) with age and low back pain (LBP) in an adult community-based population in Korea.

Methods: A sample of 472 participants (age range, 20 to 84 years) who underwent MDCT imaging for abdominal or urological lesions, not for chief complaints of LBP, were included in this study. LSFJOA based on MDCT findings was characterized using four grades of osteoarthritis of the facet joints. The prevalence of LSFJOA according to age group (below 40 years, 40-49 years, 50-59 years, 60-69 years, and above 70 years), gender, and spinal level was analyzed using chi-square tests and the association between LBP and LSFJOA adjusting for age, gender, and spine level was analyzed using multiple binary logistic regression test.

Results: Eighty-three study subjects (17.58%) had LSFJOA (grade ≥ 2). The prevalence of LSFJOA was not associated with gender (p = 0.092). The prevalence of LSFJOA increased with age (p = 0.015). The highest prevalence of LSFJOA was observed at L4-5 in men (p = 0.001) and at L5-S1 in women (p = 0.003), and at L5-S1 in the overall population (p = 0.000). LSFJOA was not associated with LBP in men (p = 0.093) but was associated with LBP in women (p = 0.003), especially at L3-4 (p = 0.018) and L5-S1 (p = 0.026).

Conclusions: The prevalence of LSFJOA based on the computed tomography imaging was 17.58% in the adult community Korean population. The prevalence of LSFJOA increased with age, and the highest prevalence was noted at L5-S1. LSFJOA was not associated with LBP at any spinal level and age except at L3-4 and L5-S1 in women.

Keywords: Community-based Korean population; Facet joint arthritis; Low back pain; Lumbar spine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult
  • Zygapophyseal Joint*