Twins offer clue to a pain in the neck

February 19, 1999

Back pain may have less to do with the job you do and the way you sit than the genes you inherit, research suggests.

Tim Spector, director of the twin research unit at St Thomas's Hospital in London, and colleagues in Australia, scanned 400 twins to measure disc degeneration in their necks and lower back. They found the risk of developing worn-out discs was much closer in identical than non-identical twins.

The analysis showed that genes accounted for about 60 per cent of the risk of developing arthritic discs in the spine. "Although occupation, posture and injuries obviously play a role in some, this study shows a worn-out disc is largely inherited," Dr Spector said. "The hunt is now on for which genes are involved."

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