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Those aching joints could be in your genes
Date:7/5/2011

Tel Aviv A common complaint, back pain is one of the many side effects of aging. Over three quarters of the population experience it at some point, and until now, researchers have had little conclusive proof of the causes and mechanisms of the pain.

New research from Prof. Gregory Livshits of Tel Aviv University's Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, however, shows that genetics are a major contributing factor to this pain and common back pain complaints may have different genetic origins. The results of their study can help identify the different mechanisms involved in back pain and lead to more effective treatment options.

The research, pursued in collaboration with a team of scientists at Kings College, London led by Prof. Tim Spector and Dr. Fran Williams, was recently published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Identical twins, identical pains

Our two-footed anatomy causes strain and subsequent deterioration of the muscular skeletal system, as do factors such as weight or physical exertion. The team's research shows genetics play a key role in lower back pain and the deterioration of intervertebral discs of the spine as well. More surprisingly, Prof. Livshits says, lower back pain and disk degeneration do not always overlap, and are caused by different genetic factors.

Preliminary testing done in Israel more than 10 years ago gave scientists their first clue to the connection between genetics and back pain. A study conducted on Arabic families revealed recurring patterns of lower back pain in family members many relatives of the same family would develop the same symptoms, even at a young age.

To further test these observations, Prof. Livshits and his team looked at a sample twin population of 2,500 individuals, comprising both identical and non-identical female twins. They tested for several potential risk factors, such as smoking, weig
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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