Advertisement

Say 'Aaah' | Monitor / GENETICS

Sciatica Mutation Indicates Some Back Problems Are Inherited

April 16, 2001|Benedict Carey

Thanks to a team of Finnish scientists, we now have an evolutionarily correct excuse for avoiding heavy lifting--our genes. That's right, some back problems may be inherited, according to a study released last week.

Analyzing blood samples from some 500 people, doctors in Finland found that those with a specific genetic mutation were about three times more likely than those without it to have sciatica, a spinal disc degeneration that pinches the body's sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back area down into the legs. Sciatica is among the most common causes of chronic disability, the researchers report, and it affects about 5% of adults in the United States and Finland. Although nearly 80% of U.S. adults suffer spells of back pain at least once in their lives, it's usually impossible to pinpoint the cause, even using advanced imaging techniques. But if the results of the Finnish study hold up, doctors will have a simple blood test to help identify people whose discs may be especially sensitive to moving couches and carrying babies and poor posture, the researchers say.

The sciatica mutation is believed to damage a protein that helps the body maintain the integrity of the cartilage in the discs. Which may or may not help you get out of moving your sister's stuff.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|