The Link Between Spinal Deformities and Psychological Disorders

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 13, 2016

Spinal deformity

New findings from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York uncovered an interesting correlation between adult spinal deformities and the development of psychological disorders.

According to researchers, more than 1 in 3 patients undergoing surgical treatment for adult spinal deformities in the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample had been coded with at least one psychological disorder as categorized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The finding leads to many questions; How are the two conditions related? Does one cause the other, and can treating either spine deformities or psychological disorders help the other condition?

Spinal Deformities and Mental Health

According to researchers, the goal of the study was to “investigate incidences of psychological disorders in adult spinal deformity patients undergoing surgical treatment,” which is a growing problem in the United States based on the data. Study authors attribute the prevalence of spinal deformities and mental health issues to our country’s ageing population, noting that the rate of psychological disorders coupled with spine deformities is “concerning” when compared to other chronic health conditions.

For their study, researchers examined four groups of patients receiving treatment:

  • Patients undergoing four different types of spinal fusion.
  • Patients with cardiac disease.
  • Patients with Type 1 or 2 diabetes.
  • Patients with lung cancer.

Psychological Disorders

Researchers then cross-checked those patient samples for coding of a number of psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorders and much more. The findings uncovered that patients with spinal deformities had the highest rate of co-existing psychological disorders (36.5%) followed by cardiac disease (33.3%) diabetic patients (28.3%) and patients with lung cancer (24%). Moreover, the team found the age range at the highest risk, as 61.7% of people with spine deformities and mental health issues were between 55 and 74 years old.

Lead researcher Bassel Diebo said that the team is interested in learning more about the correlation between the two health events, but for now, the findings suggest that “proper psychological screening, patient counseling and appropriate support,” should be part of the regular treatment plan for anyone dealing with a spinal deformity.

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