Research from the Bone and Muscle Research Group of the Ton Duc Thang University (Vietnam) suggests that six in 10 of adult Vietnamese have osteoarthritis of the spine. The finding has just been published online in the international journal Calcifield Tissue International.

Osteoarthritis of the spine (also called "intervertebral disc degeneration") is a common disorder among the elderly. People with spinal osteoarthritis have difficulty in carrying out daily activities, and reduced quality of life. The cost of treatment of osteoarthritis is also a substantial burden on the society. However, until now there has been no systematic study on spinal osteoarthritis in the Vietnamese population.

Scientists from the Bone and Muscle Research Group of the Ton Duc Thang University measured dimensions of 20 vertebrae in more than 600 men and women aged 40 years and older. They used a standard method of diagnosis to ascertain the presence of spinal osteoarthritis for each individual. Results suggest that 62% of the men and 55% of the women had osteoarthritis of the spine. 

It should be noticed that most of people with spinal osteoarthritis did not know that they had the disorder.

Lead author Dr. Ho Pham Thuc Lan, head of the Bone and Muscle Research Group, said that in Caucasian populations, the prevalence of spinal osteoarthritis varies between 60 and 80% in people aged 60 years and older. Thus, Dr. Thuc Lan suggests that her result is consistent with data from Caucasian populations.

Lower back pain is commonly believed to be a consequence of spinal osteoarthritis. In this study, 44% of men and women reported that they had experienced lower back pain. However, Dr. Thuc Lan cautioned that lower back pain and even neck pain are not good indicators of spinal osteoarthritis. In fact, she said, advancing age and overweight were found to be strong risk factors for spinal osteoarthritis.

In the near future, Dr. Thuc Lan and her research group will focus on the role of genes in the prognosis of osteoarthritis. In the long run, she hopes to utilize genetic information to develop a predictive model for assessing the risk of osteoarthritis for Vietnamese men and women. 

Currently, Vietnam population of 2014 stands at around 92 million; of which, 28% of men and 33% of women aged 40 years and older. From these statistics, the scientists estimate that there are about 16 million people with spinal osteoarthritis. Given the ongoing rapid aging of population, spinal osteoarthritis will become a significant burden on the health care system in Vietnam.

The 8th Annual Scientific Meeting of Osteoporosis was held on Aug 09th 2014 at Saigon - Ban Me hotel in Buon Ma Thuat city, Dak Lak province.

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At the conference, Bone and Muscle Research Group had 4 presentations:

    1. Dr. Ho Pham Thuc Lan - "Role of Genetics in Osteoporosis and Genes Related to Osteoporosis in Vietnamese Humans".

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    2. Dr. Lai Quoc Thai - "Correlation between Leptin and Bone Density".

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    3. Dr. Mai Duy Linh - "Correlation between Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritic Spine".

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    4. Sam Vinh Loc - "Correlation between Body Composition and Bone Density".

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