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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Lower back pain caused by gene flaw

24th September 2012

Researchers in the UK have found a genetic error which has been linked to disc problems which contribute to lower back pain.


The researchers, from Kings College London, looked at 4,600 people and discovered that the PARK2 gene was associated with age-connected disc issues.

It is believed that around one third of middle-aged women have issues with "at least one" spinal disc and eight in ten of those problems are inherited.

The researchers said finding the gene flaw could lead to new ways of targeting and treating the problem.

The study, which was published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arthritis Research UK.

The researchers performed MRI scans of all the participants in the study and examined differences in their genetic structure. 

They discovered people who had degenerate discs with faulty versions of the PARK2 gene were affected by it and generally deteriorated more quickly than those without the flawed gene.

Dr Frances Williams, of the department of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King's College London, who worked on the study, said: "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."

"Further work by disc researchers to define the role of the PARK2 gene will, we hope, shed light on one of most important causes of lower back pain. It is feasible that...we may one day be able to develop new, more effective treatments for back pain caused by this common condition."

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