High heritability for concurrent low back and neck-shoulder pain: a study of twins

Teresia Nyman, Marie Mulder, Anastasia Iliadou, Magnus Svartengren, Christina Wiktorin
Spine 2011 October 15, 36 (22): E1469-76

STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional study on 21,225 twins based on a Web-based questionnaire was performed in 2005-2006 and administered by the Swedish Twin Registry.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the importance of genetic factors for the occurrence of "Concurrent low back (LBP) and neck-shoulder pain (NSP)" as well as of "Solely LBP," and "Solely NSP" in an adult population of women and men.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Many individuals suffering from LBP also have concurrent NSP, and little is known about the factors influencing the occurrence of this spinal comorbidity.

METHODS: Heritability of Concurrent LBP and NSP, solely LBP, and solely NSP was analyzed in 2934 monozygotic twin pairs, 2009 same-sex dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs, and 1960 opposite-sex DZ twin pairs without any known rheumatic disorders using structural equation modeling (SEM).

RESULTS: The SEM showed that 60% of the total variance for concurrent LBP and NSP can be explained by additive genetic effects, which was twice as large as for solely LBP (30%) and more than twice as large as for solely NSP (24%).

CONCLUSION: Genetic factors had a considerably greater importance for the occurrence of concurrent LBP and NSP compared with solely LBP or solely NSP. The influence of genetic factors was similar for solely LBP and solely NSP.

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