Science Times: Genetic Susceptibility for Sciatica and Lumbar Disc Herniation

Since Mixter and Barr’s original description of intervertebral disc rupture as a source of sciatica,1 the widespread use of modern day imaging for low back pain has disclosed a high prevalence of asymptomatic lumbar disc herniations. Even of those with symptomatic herniations, approximately one-third resolve without intervention and only 5% to 10% go on to require surgery.2 Understanding which patients with intervertebral disc herniations go on to develop medically refractory sciatica requiring surgery remains a diagnostic challenge. A recent report by Bjornsdottir et al3 in Nature Communications sheds light on this using a genome-wide association study (GWSA) to identify a highly correlated genetic polymorphism, rs6651255[C], with the risk of requiring lumbar discectomy for persistent debilitating sciatica.3

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