One third of people aged 40-59 have evidence of degenerative disc disease

May 17, 2018

BOSTON -- Researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research, and Boston Medical Center have reported that one-third of people 40-59 years have image-based evidence of moderate to severe degenerative disc disease and more than half had moderate to severe spinal osteoarthritis. Beyond that, the prevalence of disc height narrowing and joint osteoarthritis increased 2 to 4 fold in those aged 60-69 and 70-89 respectively. Furthermore, scientists observed that progression of these conditions occurred 40 - 70% more frequently in women than men.

To uncover these results, scientists used CT scans taken six years apart to evaluate the severity of disc disease and spinal osteoarthritis in 1200 cohort members of the Framingham Study - a collection of data from Framingham, MA residents and their offspring dating back to the 1940s. The results of this study were published recently in The Spine Journal.

Elizabeth Samelson, Ph.D., Associate Scientist at the Institute for Aging Research and author of this study said, "Spinal degenerative conditions, including disc height narrowing and joint osteoarthritis are common causes of pain, reduced function, and health care costs in older adults. Despite the clinical importance, little is known about the frequency and progression of spinal degenerative disease in the general population. Therefore, we conducted a study to describe the prevalence and progression in a population-based cohort."
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Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers R01 AG041658, R01 AR053986, R01 AR041398, T32-AG023480 and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study under HHSN268201500001I. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health."

About Institute for Aging Research

Scientists at the Institute for Aging Research seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making. The Musculoskeletal Center within IFAR studies conditions affecting bone, muscle, and joint health with aging.

About Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Based in Boston, the non-profit, non-sectarian organization has provided communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers since 1903. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit http://www.hebrewseniorlife.org, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.

Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research

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