Ann Rheum Dis 50:162-166 doi:10.1136/ard.50.3.162
  • Research Article

A longitudinal study of back pain and radiological changes in the lumbar spines of middle aged women. II. Radiographic findings.

  1. D P Symmons,
  2. A M van Hemert,
  3. J P Vandenbroucke,
  4. H A Valkenburg
  1. Department of Clinical Epidemiology, University Hospital, Leiden, The Netherlands.


      The natural history of radiological changes in the lumbar spine was evaluated in two groups of middle aged Dutch women selected from the general population. One group (n = 236) had recurrent back pain and the other (n = 241) had never experienced back pain. At the beginning of the study disc degeneration was more common in the group with back pain. Osteoporotic vertebral fractures were equally common in both groups. Nine years later both groups showed an increase in prevalence of disc degeneration and osteoporotic fractures. The strongest predictor for change in disc degeneration was the presence of degeneration at the beginning of the study. The development of disc degeneration for the first time was related to body mass index.