Announcing our new Non-Testifying Consulting Service
The Framingham Spinal Stenosis Study

The Framingham Spinal Stenosis Study

Most people know about the Famous Framingham Heart Study.  The study followed a group of volunteers from Framingham Massachusetts for an extended period of time.  The first group of 5209 volunteers were 30-60 year old men and women enrolled in the study from 1948.  All sorts of measures were documented.  In 1971,  5124 children of the original study group were enrolled.   In 2002,  4095 grandchildren of the original volunteer group were enrolled.  By following these people,  much have been made about the Heart effects of aging,  diet,  exercise,  etc.

In 2006,  3590 volunteers had CT scans of the heart and abdomen for further data collection.    Of these volunteers,  191 consecutive enrollee’s had additional imaging of the lower spine.   From these 191 volunteers,  there has been some interesting data about the prevalence of spinal stenosis.  This is the so called Framingham Spinal Stenosis Study.

This was the demographics taken directly from the paper:

“The study sample included 191 study participants, 104 (55.6%) males and 87 (44.4%)
females. The mean age was 52.6±10.8 (age range: 32–79) and the mean BMI was 27.8±5.0.
This subsample was representative of the whole group of individuals that underwent multidetector
CT scanning (N=3590).”

Relative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis was a 12 mm or less Mid vertebral canal diameter as measured by CT Scan.

Absolute Lumbar Spinal Stenosis was a 10 mm or less mid vertebral canal diameter as measured by CT Scan.

Statistical analysis did not correlate Low Back pain to Age,  Sex,  BMI,  or the presence of Relative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.  However,  the presence of Absolute Lumbar Spinal Stenosis was associated with corresponding Low Back Pain.  


The Study Conclusions:

  1. Congenital Lumbar Stenosis is 4.71% and 2.62%  (relative,  and absolute stenosis)

  2. Prevalence of stenosis increases with age

  3. In the 60-69 age group,  the rates are 47.2% and 19.4% (relative,  and absolute stenosis)

  4. The high prevalence of stenosis in the over 60 population needs to be considered when trying to associate pain and neurologic complaints of the spine.

  5. Absolute lumbar spinal stenosis is associated with a 3 fold higher risk of lower back pain.


Published in final edited form as:
Spine J. 2009 July ; 9(7): 545–550. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2009.03.005.


Last modified: January 5, 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *