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North American Spine Society, Nov. 2-5, 2011

Last Updated: November 09, 2011.

The North American Spine Society 26th Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the North American Spine Society was held from Nov. 2 to 5 in Chicago, and attracted more than 4,000 participants from around the world, including orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, psychiatry, neurology, radiology, and anesthesiology specialists as well as researchers, physical therapy specialists, and other spine care professionals. The conference featured presentations focusing on the latest advances in medical and surgical spine care.

Mark L. Prasarn, M.D., of the University of Texas in Houston, and colleagues reviewed the medical records of 13,704 consecutive patients treated at two university spine centers to assess the effects of smoking on pain and functional outcomes.

"We evaluated patients' pain scores and functional outcome scores and looked at these results based on smoking status, whether patients were current smokers, previous smokers, or never smokers. We found that smokers had worse pain scores and worse functional outcomes scores than nonsmokers. In addition, we found a dose-dependent relationship. Current smokers had worse functional outcome scores than previous smokers and nonsmokers. Also, previous smokers had worse functional outcome scores than never smokers," Prasarn said. "In an era of preventive medicine and improvement of health care outcomes, it is imperative that all physicians, including those treating spine patients, make an effort to get their patients to quit smoking."

Abstract No. 231
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In another study, Oded Hershkovich, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Israel, and colleagues found an association between low back pain and above normal body mass index (BMI) and increased height. In a retrospective cross-sectional prevalence study, the investigators evaluated 470,125 male and 359,666 female Israeli military recruits who underwent pre-induction medical examinations between 1998 and 2009. The investigators categorized recruits into two groups, including recruits who had subjective complaints of low back pain only and those who had subjective complaints of low back pain with objective findings on imaging studies or physical examination.

"Our study is one of the few studies in the literature that has found a strong relationship between body measures and low back pain. We were able to show not only a direct increase of the risk for low back pain with an above normal BMI, but also, in our two study groups (low back pain complaint with or without objective findings), the increase in the odds ratio was more pronounced for the group with objective findings and thus decreasing the bias related to subjective findings only," Hershkovich said. "Further research is needed in order to understand the biological processes leading to low back pain in relation to these body measures."

Abstract No. 174
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John W. McClellan III, M.D., of the Nebraska Spine Center in Omaha, and colleagues found that the squat weight-lifting technique puts young children in danger of stress fractures.

"We looked at a common weight-lifting technique called squatting. It is a commonly-used technique that requires squatting with a bar across the shoulders. In this study, we looked at the technique, making sure it was done properly with the aid of a physical therapist. We found that the weight-lifting approach put the spine in a precarious position of high risk, as loading the bones in the position can lead to stress fracture," McClellan said. "We really aimed to disprove the theory that squatting causes stress fractures when done incorrectly but that it is safe to do when performed accurately; however, we found that even when the exercise is done correctly, it is dangerous. It is a lifting technique that is risky for children and shouldn't be used in most adolescent's exercise programs."

Abstract No. P41
Press Release

NASS: Low Vitamin D Common in Spinal Surgery Patients

TUESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients undergoing spine surgery have high rates of vitamin D inadequacy (<30 ng/mL) and deficiency (<20 ng/mL), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the North American Spine Society, held from Nov. 2 to 5 in Chicago.

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