Lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration and related factors in Korean firefighters

Tae Won Jang, Yeon Soon Ahn, Junsu Byun, Jong In Lee, Kun Hyung Kim, Youngki Kim, Han Soo Song, Chul Gab Lee, Young Jun Kwon, Jin Ha Yoon, Kyoungsook Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The job of firefighting can cause lumbar burden and low back pain. This study aimed to identify the association between age and lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration and whether the association differs between field and administrative (non-field) firefighters. Methods: Subjects were selected using a stratified random sampling method. Firefighters were stratified by geographic area, gender, age and type of job. First, 25 fire stations were randomly sampled considering regional distribution. Then firefighters were stratified by gender, age and their job and randomly selected among the strata. A questionnaire survey and MRI scans were performed, and then four radiologists used Pfirrmann classification methods to determine the grade of lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration. Results: Pfirrmann grade increased with lumbar intervertebral disc level. Analysis of covariance showed that age was significantly associated with lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration (p<0.05). The value of β (parameter estimate) was positive at all lumbar intervertebral disc levels and was higher in the field group than in the administrative group at each level. In logistic regression analysis, type of job was statistically significant only with regard to the L4-5 intervertebral disc (OR 3.498, 95% CI 1.241 to 9.860). Conclusions: Lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration is associated with age, and field work such as firefighting, emergency and rescue may accelerate degeneration in the L4-5 intervertebral disc. The effects of field work on lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration were not clear in discs other than at the level L4-5.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere011587
JournalBMJ open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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