n Finland, researchers have been conducting various studies on 300 pairs of male twins. Using the data collected, scientists can look for genetic causes of health-related issues.
In this study, the genetic influence on back pain was analyzed. Is back pain determined by genetic traits? Or are there environmental factors that influence who develops low back pain (LBP)?
Lumbar MRIs were done on all subjects. The presence and amount of disc degeneration was determined from the MRIs. Each man was interviewed in depth about his lifetime history of back pain. Questions were asked to identify possible risk factors for LBP. Risk factors could be environmental or behavioral.
The results of this study showed that both genetics and environmental factors have a major role in narrowing of the disc height. The presence of genetic factors contributes to both disc degeneration and back pain.
After analyzing all the data, the authors concluded that genetic factors influence disc narrowing. Disc narrowing was the main factor in disc degeneration. Disc degeneration may be one pathway through which genes influence back pain.
Michele C. Battié, et al. Heritability of Low Back Pain and the Role of Disc Degeneration. In Pain. October 2007. Vol. 131. No. 3. Pp. 272-280.