Tags: back | pain | gene | disc

Is Back Pain Genetic?

Wednesday, 26 Sep 2012 11:02 AM


For the first time, scientists have identified a gene linked to spinal-disc problems that are a common cause of back pain.
The findings, detailed by King's College London researchers in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, suggest genetics are a primary factor in age-related degeneration of the intervertebral discs in the spine. Investigators also said they may pave the way for new treatments for low back pain caused by lumbar disc degeneration (LDD).
"Back pain can have a serious impact on people's lives and is one of the most common causes of sickness leave,” noted lead researcher Dr. Frances Williams.
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"We have performed, using data collected from around the world, the biggest genome-wide association analysis of [LDD]. We know that people whose discs wear out are at increased risk of episodes of lower back pain, but normal human discs are hard to get hold of to study so until now our knowledge of normal human biology was incomplete.”
Williams said the analysis identified a gene – known as PARK2 – associated with LDD that may be subject to treatment to alleviate back pain.
“We have shown that the gene may be switched off in people with the condition,” he said. "Further work by disc researchers to define the role of this gene will, we hope, shed light on one of most important causes of lower back pain. It is feasible that if we can build on this finding and improve our knowledge of the condition, we may one day be able to develop new, more effective treatments for back pain caused by this common condition."
For the study, scientists compared MRI images of the spine in 4,600 individuals and found the PARK2 gene was implicated in people with degenerate discs.
LDD is a common age-related trait, with more than a third of middle-aged women having at least one degenerate disc in the spine. Discs become dehydrated, lose height, and the vertebrae next to the discs develop bony growths that can cause lower back pain.
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Scientists have identified a gene linked to spinal-disc problems that are a common cause of back pain.
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2012-02-26
Wednesday, 26 Sep 2012 11:02 AM
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