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BACKGROUND: To explore the relationship between radiographic spondylolisthesis and occupational factors in a case-control study nested within the Wakayama Spine Study (WSS). METHODS: The WSS is a cross-sectional observational study amongst Japanese adults. All participants completed a lifetime occupational history and underwent X-rays of the lumbar spine (L1-S1) according to a pre-defined protocol. One trained surgeon graded the presence of a spondylolisthesis based upon ≥5% anterior or posterior slip at one or more levels. Cases, with lumbar spondylolisthesis, were compared with controls without, for their principal occupation and occupational exposures. RESULTS: In total, data were available for 722 adults (245 men and 477 women), mean age 70.1 (range 53-93) years. According to the pre-defined radiographic criteria, 117 were defined with spondylolisthesis (cases), leaving 605 controls. Cases were not significantly different from controls for age, gender, BMI, smoking or alcohol intake. However, cases were more than twice as likely to report occupational driving ≥4 h/day (OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.08-5.27) after adjustment for age, gender and BMI. Additionally, after stratification by age using 75 years as a cut-point, cases were more than 3-fold more likely to report having worked in the agricultural/ fishing industries (OR 3.47, 95% CI 1.29-9.29) among those aged < 75 years. A reduced risk of being a case was associated with climbing slopes/steps and walking. CONCLUSIONS: A history of occupational driving and working in the agricultural/fishing industry were associated with radiographic spondylolisthesis in this cross-sectional population study. This finding requires further evaluation in longitudinal studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmc musculoskelet disord

Publication Date





Agricultural /driving, Occupation, Spondylolisthesis, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Case-Control Studies, Female, Humans, Lumbar Vertebrae, Male, Middle Aged, Occupational Exposure, Spondylolisthesis