One-third of people aged 40-59 who took part in the Framingham Study have image-based evidence of moderate to severe degenerative disc disease, and more than half had moderate to severe spinal osteoarthritis, researchers note.

In addition, according to the research team from Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research, the prevalence of disc height narrowing and joint osteoarthritis increased 2 to 4 fold in those aged 60-69 and 70-89, respectively.

Furthermore, they add, progression of these conditions occurred 40% to 70% more frequently in women than men.

To uncover these results, scientists used CT scans taken 6 years apart to evaluate the severity of disc disease and spinal osteoarthritis in 1,200 participants in the Framingham Study—a collection of data from Framingham, Mass, residents and their offspring dating back to the 1940s, according to a media release from Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research.

The study was published recently in The Spine Journal.

“Spinal degenerative conditions, including disc height narrowing and joint osteoarthritis, are common causes of pain, reduced function, and health care costs in older adults,” says study author Elizabeth Samelson, PhD, associate scientist at the Institute for Aging Research, in the release.

“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.”

[Source(s): Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research, EurekAlert]