Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) can occur throughout the entire spine and can sometimes lead to spinal disorder. Although patients with OPLL sometimes develop physical limitations because of pain, the characteristics of pain and effects on activities of daily living (ADL) have not been precisely evaluated in OPLL patients. Therefore, we conducted a multi-center prospective study to assess whether the symptoms of cervical OPLL are different from those of cervical spondylosis (CS). A total of 263 patients with a diagnosis of cervical OPLL and 50 patients with a diagnosis of CS were enrolled and provided self-reported outcomes, including responses to the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) Cervical Myelopathy Evaluation Questionnaire (JOACMEQ), JOA Back Pain Evaluation Questionnaire (JOABPEQ), visual analog scale (VAS), and SF-36 scores. The severity of myelopathy was significantly correlated with each domain of the JOACMEQ and JOABPEQ. There was a negative correlation between the VAS score for each domain and the JOA score. There were significantly positive correlations between the JOA score and the Mental Health, Bodily Pain, Physical Functioning, Role Emotional, and Role Physical domains of the SF-36. One-to-one matching resulted in 50 pairs of patients with OPLL and CS. Although there was no significant between-group difference in scores in any of the domains of the JOACMEQ or JOABPEQ, the VAS scores for pain or numbness in the buttocks or limbs were significantly higher in the CS group; however, there was no marked difference in low back pain, chest tightness, or numbness below the chest between the two study groups. The scores for the Role Physical and Body Pain domains of the SF-36 were significantly higher in the OPLL group than in the CS group, and the mean scores for the other domains was similar between the two groups. The results of this study revealed that patients with OPLL were likely to have neck and low back pain and restriction in ADL. No specific type of pain was found in patients with OPLL when compared with those who had CS.
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