Disc Degeneration in the young

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Research Study

Disc Degeneration in Children


“Recurrent low back pain and early disc degeneration in the young.”

Investigators in this study published in Spine 1999 surveyed 1,503 14 year old children. 7.8% of the subjects reported recurrent low back pain (LBP).

Scientists then compared a subgroup of 40 children with recurrent LBP with 40 pain free controls. The children underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 15 and 18 years of age and were questioned about the existence of LBP at ages 15, 18 and 22.


Participants in the study who showed signs of disc degeneration at age 15 were 16 times more likely to report LBP at age 23.

The study concluded that:

“individuals with disc degeneration soon after the phase of rapid physical growth not only have an increased risk of recurrent low back pain at this age, but also a long-term risk of recurrent pain up to early adulthood.”

Salminen JJ, Erkintalo MO, Pentti J, Oksanen A, Kormano MJ. Spine 1999; 24(3):   1316-21.

    This study demonstrates that children do not simply ‘grow out’ of their low back pain. Surely further evidence for the importance of an early chiropractic assessment for children.

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