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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2012 Oct;20(10):1103-8. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2012.06.018. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Prevalence of symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis and its association with physical performance in a population-based cohort in Japan: the Wakayama Spine Study.

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Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama City, Japan.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) and to clarify the association between symptomatic LSS and physical performance using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a population-based cohort.


This cross-sectional study was performed as a part of the research on osteoarthritis/osteoporosis against disability (ROAD) in Japan and 1,009 subjects (335 men, 674 women, mean age 66.3 years, age range 21-97 years) were analyzed. An experienced orthopedic surgeon obtained the medical history and performed the physical testing for all participants. Symptomatic LSS diagnostic criteria required the presence of both symptoms and radiographic LSS findings. A 6-m walking time, chair standing time, and one-leg standing time were obtained from all participants.


The prevalence of symptomatic LSS was 9.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.7-11.3) overall, 10.1% (CI: 7.4-13.8) in men and 8.9% (CI: 7.0-11.3) in women. There was a difference in the prevalence with increasing age by gender. The LSS prevalence showed little difference with age greater than 70 years for men, but the LSS prevalence for women was higher with increasing age. Among physical performance measures, 6-m walking time at a maximal pace was significantly associated with symptomatic LSS (P = 0.03).


The prevalence of symptomatic LSS was approximately 10% in a cohort resembling the general Japanese population. A 6-m walking time at a maximal pace was a more sensitive index than walking at a usual pace in assessing decreased physical performance associated with symptomatic LSS.

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