Public health

Evolution to blame for back pain

Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015


People with low back pain are more likely to have spines that more closely resemble our closest ancestors, researchers say.

The study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology  analysed the vertebrae of chimpanzees, orangutans and ancient human skeletons to investigate the relationship between the shapes of the bones of the spine, upright movement and the health of the human spine.

They found intervertebral disc herniation preferentially affects individuals with vertebrae that are towards the ancestral end of the range of shape variation within H. sapiens and therefore are less well adapted for walking upright.

“This finding not only has clinical implications but also illustrates the benefits of bringing the tools of evolutionary biology to bear on problems in medicine and public health,” the authors wrote.

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