Hyperkyhosis is thought to be a fall risk factor in older adults. This large study of older men found that fall risk increased with greater kyphosis measured with the blocks method, but did not find an association between kyphosis and falls when measured by the commonly used the Cobb angle method.
Research suggests an association between hyperkyphosis and falls in community-dwelling older adults, though this has not been investigated within large, population-based studies. This study sought to determine whether two measures of kyphosis prospectively predict fall risk over 3 years among older men.
Within the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS), we conducted two 3-year prospective studies of 2346 and 2928 men. The first group had kyphosis measured by the Cobb angle at visit 1, while the second group had kyphosis assessed with the blocks method at visit 3; both groups then self-reported falls tri-annually for 3 years. Poisson regression with GEE was used to obtain relative risks (RR) of falls.
The fall rates over 3 years were 651/1000 person-years among the visit 1 sample (mean age 74 ± 6 years) and 839/1000 person-years among the visit 3 sample (mean age 79 ± 5 years). In adjusted models of the visit 3 sample, the risk of falls was increased by 12% for each standard deviation increase (1.4 blocks) in the number of blocks required to achieve a neutral head and neck position (RR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.06, 1.18). The Cobb angle was not associated with falls in the visit 1 sample.
Although the Cobb angle did not predict falls in community-dwelling older men over 3 years, the blocks method of measuring kyphosis was predictive of falls in this population. This difference could be due to the Cobb angle’s focus on thoracic kyphosis, whereas the blocks method may additionally capture abnormal cervical spine curvature.
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The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) Study is supported by National Institutes of Health funding. The following institutes provide support: the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research under the following grant numbers: U01 AG027810, U01 AG042124, U01 AG042139, U01 AG042140, U01 AG042143, U01 AG042145, U01 AG042168, U01 AR066160, and UL1 TR000128.
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McDaniels-Davidson, C., Nichols, J., Vaida, F. et al. Kyphosis and 3-year fall risk in community-dwelling older men. Osteoporos Int (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-019-05155-8
- Cobb angle
- Older adults