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Back pain sufferers may have chimp-like vertebrae

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London : People who suffer from back pain may have vertebrae more like those of chimpanzees than of healthy humans, a new study suggests, reports PTI.

Researchers said that bad backs may partly be the result of learning to run before we could walk, in evolutionary terms, with the rapid evolution of the ability to walk upright on two legs leaving some people vulnerable.

The study compared the backs of 71 humans, 36 chimpanzees and 15 orangutans, and found that humans with a common form of vertical slipped disc – known as “Schmorl’s nodes” – had vertebrae shaped more like those of chimpanzees.


The study, published in the journal BMC Evolutionary biology, suggests that individuals with chimpanzee-like vertebrae are at greater risk of suffering a slipped disc.

“Our study is the first to use quantitative methods to uncover why humans are so commonly afflicted with back problems compared to non-human primates,” said lead scientist Dr Kimberly Plomp, from Simon Fraser University in Canada.

“The findings have potential implications for clinical research as they indicate why some individuals are more prone to back problems.

“This may help in preventative care by identifying individuals, such as athletes, who may be at risk of developing the condition,” Plomp said.

While humans habitually amble on two feet, chimps mostly walk on their knuckles while orangutans use all four limbs to climb trees. All have significantly different shaped vertebrae, ‘The Telegraph’ reported.