Physical performance and radiographic and clinical vertebral fractures in older men

Peggy M. Cawthon, Terri L. Blackwell, Lynn M. Marshall, Howard A. Fink, Deborah M. Kado, Kristine E. Ensrud, Jane A. Cauley, Dennis Black, Eric S. Orwoll, Steven R. Cummings, John T. Schousboe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In men, the association between poor physical performance and likelihood of incident vertebral fractures is unknown. Using data from the MrOS study (N=5958), we describe the association between baseline physical performance (walking speed, grip strength, leg power, repeat chair stands, narrow walk [dynamic balance]) and incidence of radiographic and clinical vertebral fractures. At baseline and follow-up an average of 4.6 years later, radiographic vertebral fractures were assessed using semiquantitative (SQ) scoring on lateral thoracic and lumbar radiographs. Logistic regression modeled the association between physical performance and incident radiographic vertebral fractures (change in SQ grade ≥1 from baseline to follow-up). Every 4 months after baseline, participants self-reported fractures; clinical vertebral fractures were confirmed by centralized radiologist review of the baseline study radiograph and community-acquired spine images. Proportional hazards regression modeled the association between physical performance with incident clinical vertebral fractures. Multivariate models were adjusted for age, bone mineral density (BMD, by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry [DXA]), clinical center, race, smoking, height, weight, history of falls, activity level, and comorbid medical conditions; physical performance was analyzed as quartiles. Of 4332 men with baseline and repeat radiographs, 192 (4.4%) had an incident radiographic vertebral fracture. With the exception of walking speed, poorer performance on repeat chair stands, leg power, narrow walk, and grip strength were each associated in a graded manner with an increased risk of incident radiographic vertebral fracture (p for trend across quartiles <0.001). In addition, men with performance in the worst quartile on three or more exams had an increased risk of radiographic fracture (odds ratio [OR]=1.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.33-2.45) compared with men with better performance on all exams. Clinical vertebral fracture (n =149 of 5813, 2.6%) was not consistently associated with physical performance. We conclude that poorer physical performance is associated with an increased risk of incident radiographic (but not clinical) vertebral fracture in older men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2101-2108
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014




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