Rugby linked to cervical spine degeneration

  • 22/07/2015

By 3 News online staff

Former professional rugby players have greater cervical spine degeneration, according to new research.

French researchers compared cervical spine symptoms and evidence of injury of two groups of men – 101 retired professional rugby players, aged between 35 and 47, and a control group of 85 volunteers, aged 35 to 49, who hadn't competed in any sports on a professional level.

They evaluated spine symptoms in all of the participants and spine MRI findings in a sample of 50 men – 25 from the retired rugby player group and 25 from the control group.

Complaints of chronic neck pain and reduced neck mobility were reported by 50.5 percent of the former rugby player group and 31.8 percent of the control group.

The research findings were first published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine by David Brauge.

"A few years after the end of their careers, professional rugby players seem to have more degenerative symptoms and lesions on the cervical spine. These symptoms are exceptionally disabling," says Dr Brauge.

"Our definitive conclusion should be reasonably prudent; we still can't assert that the lesions worsen with time or that the disease stabilises with the end of the rugby activity."

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