Research on Twins and Disc Degeneration

Research on Twins and Disc Degeneration

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So,  what if you had a study where identical twins were subject to difference occupations and followed over time to see if there was any difference in the development of disk degeneration?  I think everyone would agree that would be a fascinating study.   If we had just a study,   maybe we would have enough data to answer the question of genetics over environment.  Does increased occupational stress increase disk degeneration?  Does genetics have a role in the development of disk degeneration?

Well,  in the Spine Journal of January 2009,  Battie, et al  reported on a 1991 Twin Spine Study about a multinational research project that followed twins from Canada,  Finland and the United States.  The study gather data regarding disk degeneration and relationships with occupational exposure,  smoking,  driving and whole body vibrational exposure, anthropomorphic characteristics,  inheretability and the potential genetic nature of degeneration.

The study indicated a significant genetic effect associated with the development of disc degeneration.  For many of the twins,  there was a significant difference in occupational and recreational spinal loads.  Identical twins had different interests,  and had jobs with significant physical demands.  Yet,  the development of disc degeneration was similar in these identical twins.

The study concluded that the conventional wisdom of assuming occupational and physical loading causes disc degeneration was not correct.  The identical twins developed disc degeneration in similar manners despite differences in occupation and recreational exposures.  The study indicates that genetics determine the development of disc degeneration rather than “wear and tear” of life or occupational exposure.

This article was a followup to a 5 year twin study published in 2006.  In that study,  it concluded that in identical twins,  only 2%-10% of the degeneration can be attributable to occupational and physical loading.  The vast majority of disc degeneration is secondary to genetics and similar environmental exposures.

Currently,  there is a significant amount of research being devoted to identifying the genetic markers associated with accelerated disc degeneration, and other musculoskeletal manifestations.  In clinic practice,  at times, we see families that have serial generations with similar findings.  Often times,  we are not sure if the clinical complaints are completely environmental,  familial pattern of behavior, or genetics.  In the future,  we may have genetic testing that may enlighten us to the cause of these familial patterns.

While research continues,  these studies do indicate lumbar disc degeneration does have a significant genetic component.  This information may inflame  the debate on the theories of occupational and traumatically induced disc degeneration.

 

 

 

Citations

  • Battié MC, Videman T, Kaprio J, Gibbons LE, Gill K, Manninen H, Saarela J, Peltonen L. The Twin Spine Study: contributions to a changing view of disc degeneration. Spine J. 2009 Jan-Feb;9(1):47-59. PubMed PMID: 19111259

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

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Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

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Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

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The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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