Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc degeneration: Quite different, quite similar

PainSci » bibliography » Rustenburg et al 2018
Tags: etiology, back pain, spine, arthritis, pro, pain problems, aging

One article on PainSci cites Rustenburg 2018: The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Intervertebral disc degeneration describes the vicious cycle of the deterioration of intervertebral discs and can eventually result in degenerative disc disease (DDD), which is accompanied by low-back pain, the musculoskeletal disorder with the largest socioeconomic impact world-wide. In more severe stages, intervertebral disc degeneration is accompanied by loss of joint space, subchondral sclerosis, and osteophytes, similar to osteoarthritis (OA) in the articular joint. Inspired by this resemblance, we investigated the analogy between human intervertebral discs and articular joints. Although embryonic origin and anatomy suggest substantial differences between the two types of joint, some features of cell physiology and extracellular matrix in the nucleus pulposus and articular cartilage share numerous parallels. Moreover, there are great similarities in the response to mechanical loading and the matrix-degrading factors involved in the cascade of degeneration in both tissues. This suggests that the local environment of the cell is more important to its behavior than embryonic origin. Nevertheless, OA is widely regarded as a true disease, while intervertebral disc degeneration is often regarded as a radiological finding and DDD is undervalued as a cause of chronic low-back pain by clinicians, patients and society. Emphasizing the similarities rather than the differences between the two diseases may create more awareness in the clinic, improve diagnostics in DDD, and provide cross-fertilization of clinicians and scientists involved in both intervertebral disc degeneration and OA.

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: