London: Researchers have identified a gene flaw linked to disc problems that are a common cause of lower back pain.
In the UK study, the researchers looked at 4,600 people and found that the PARK2 gene was linked to age-related disc problems.
A third of middle-aged women have problems with at least one spinal disc and the condition is known to be inherited in up to 80 percent of patients.
According to experts, finding the gene could lead to new treatments being developed.
In lumbar disc degeneration (LDD), discs become dehydrated and lose height, and the vertebrae next to them develops bony growths called osteophytes, leading to lower back pain.
For the study, the King’s College London researchers carried out MRI scans of all those in the study and looked at differences in their genetic make-up.
They found that variants of the PARK2 gene appeared to have an effect in people with degenerate discs and influence the speed at which their condition deteriorated.
The researchers, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arthritis Research UK, say more research is now needed to find out how the gene influences the condition.
“It’s a promising start,” the BBC quoted Prof Alan Silman from Arthritis Research UK as saying.
The study has been published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.