Introduction The work of firefighters inflicts a burden on the lumbar spine and may even provoke low back pain. Although ageing could cause degenerative changes in lumbar spine, there have been only few studies about lumbar degenerative changes in firefighters by age. Therefore, we have investigated the risk of lumbar degenerative changes in firefighters by age, while comparing with hospital office workers (HOWs) as our control group.
Methods We selected 490 professional firefighters using random sampling method by gender, age, and job. Then, we surveyed risk factors, job and clinical status, and conducted MRI and physical examinations, which was carried out by radiology specialists. Back pain was classified by NIOSH classification. The degenerative changes of lumbar spine were diagnosed as one of degenerative changes such as, intervertebral disc herniation or degeneration, central canal stenosis, and neural canal stenosis. The odds ratio of age-related lumbar degenerative changes in firefighters and control groups with 20 s years old (reference group) was evaluated using the logistic regression analysis.
Results The odds ratio of lumbar degenerative changes was significantly high only in 50 s among HOWs but in all age groups among firefighters. The central canal stenosis was significantly high prevalence in all age group, and disc herniation and degeneration were significantly high after 40 s among firefighters.
Conclusion The lumbar degenerative changes in firefighters occur at early age. It may be due to occupational factors of firefighter. In essence, further studies are needed to prevent these degenerative changes.
This research was supported by the Field-oriented Support of Fire Fighting Technology Research and Development Program funded by National Fire Agency (‘MPSS-
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