SAN FRANCISCO — Intense swimming and running at a younger age was associated with more lumbar disc degeneration later on among young Finnish adults, according to results of a study presented here.
However, none of the sports studied had a protective effect for lumbar disc degeneration (DD), Jani Takatalo, MD, MSc, of the Medical Research Center Oulu, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland, said at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Annual Meeting.
“The aim of our study was to investigate whether the participation in different sport activities was associated with lumbar DD [disc degeneration] in athlete adults,” Takatalo said.
Takatalo and colleagues studied a subsample of 558 individuals from the northern Finland 1986 birth cohort who participated in various sports. They sent the individuals questionnaires about their sport participation at the ages of 16, 18 and 19 years old. At a mean age of 21 years, the young adults underwent spine MRI to determine the extent of lumbar DD present, if any.
The researchers used the modified Pfirrmann grade to classify the amount of disc degeneration present on MRI and combined that information with the data acquired with regard to participation in running, swimming, soccer, ice hockey, floorball, skate boarding, aerobic, dancing, weight training and walking activities. To draw their conclusions, the researchers performed two multiple logistic regression analyses: one for the whole lumbar and one for the lower lumbar spine. Whole-spine analysis looked at factors of lumbar DD with running, swimming, aerobics and dancing. Running, swimming, dancing, floorball, weight lifting and walking were considered for the lower lumbar spine.
Forty-six percent of the individuals had no lumbar DD, 38% had moderate lumbar DD and 16% had what was considered to be more severe lumbar DD, based on the findings. The researchers found active participation in running and swimming were associated with more severe DD. – by Susan M. Rapp
Takatalo J, et al. Paper #25. Presented at: International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Annual Meeting; June 8-12, 2015; San Francisco.
Disclosure: Takatalo reports no relevant financial disclosures.