Study author Dr. Alpesh A. Patel, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and colleagues used data from the Utah Population Database, a public information repository containing health and genealogic data of more than 2 million Utah residents.
The researchers examined health and family records of 1,264 people with lumbar disc disease -- defined as either lumbar disc degeneration or lumbar disc herniation.
"Previous studies, including studies of twin siblings and subsequent genetic marker studies, have suggested a genetic predisposition for the development of symptomatic lumbar disc disease but have been limited by a small number of patients," Patel says in a statement. "The results of this study provide evidence based on a population of more than 2 million people, indicating that there likely is a genetic component in the development of this disease."
The study, published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, finds patients with lumbar disc disease were more likely than others to have family members with disc disease, and risk for lumbar disc disease was significantly elevated in both close and distant relatives.
The combination of the two findings strongly supports a genetic basis to symptomatic lumbar disc disease, Patel says.