Cervical DDD is Meaningless!!!

Reference:Okada E, et al Aging of the cervical spine in healthy volunteers: a 10-year longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2009 Apr 1;34(7):706-12.

You and I both know that DDD of the cervical spine is inevitable with age. You and I also know that DDD is most often completely and utterly irrelevant to patients’ neck symptoms.

We also know that the knowledge of having this “disastrous” condition called DDD instills horror, fear and hopelessness into our patients and makes us fight an uphill battle for their recovery.

The aim of this study published in Spine was to answer the following question.

Is there a correlation between progression of cervical disc degeneration and development of clinical symptoms?

This was a 12 year long prospective longitudinal study involving over 220 healthy volunteers (mean age of 39) who underwent an MRI in the beginning of the study and underwent another MRI 10 years later.

After 10 years, 34% of these previously asymptomatic subjects developed neck and/arm symptoms. However …

81% of all the subjects had progression of their degenerative changes, which means that the majority of them remained asymptomatic despite the DDD

 61% of the subjects had developed anterior compression of dura and spinal cord

 70% developed posterior disc protrusion

 9% developed foraminal stenosis

There were no correlations between any DDD findings and sex, smoking, alcohol, sport, or BMI.

Logistic regression analysis revealed that incidence of progression of disc space narrowing, posterior disc protrusion, foraminal stenosis did NOT correlate with symptom development. I repeat: MRI results DID NOT correlate with symptoms at all!

The only thing that this study showed correlated with the progression of degenerative changes was …are you sitting down for this? …the suspense must be killing you. Here goes; the shocking conclusion was that cervical degeneration was associated with older age!!!!!

What will they prove next… that white hair and my balding head is also associated with older age?

Posted on: July 05, 2013

Categories: Cervical Spine

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