Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Our 16-year old daughter has been having serious back and leg pain. At first we thought she had scoliosis but an MRI showed a herniated disc and slipped growth plate in the spine at the same level. Her father has had two operations for disc problems. Is this hereditary?

Compared to adults, disc herniation in young children and teens is fairly rare. Less than four per cent of the population ages 12 to 17 have disc herniations. Trauma is the most likely cause -- either direct to the spine or indirectly from an athletic activity.

Surprisingly, according to a recent study in Israel, almost half of the patients with a disc herniation also had a first-degree relative who had a disc herniation. First-degree relations include the parents, child, or siblings.

These findings suggest there may be a family predisposition or hereditary factors with disc herniation in adolescents. More studies are needed to confirm this figure.

Yossi Smorgick, MD, et al. Mid- to Long-Term Outcome of Disc Excision in Adolescent Disc Herniation. In The Spine Journal. July/August 2006. Vol. 6. No. 4. Pp. 380-384.

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