High stature and body mass might affect the occurrence of Schmorl’s nodes

Open access


Schmorl’s nodes are vertical herniation of intervertebral discs into the body of neighbouring vertebral endplate. Notwithstanding extensive studies, no consensus has been reached in the subject of their possible etiology. It is hypothesized that physical stress, trauma and high axial loading are the key factors in the occurrence of this pathology. The main objective of the current work is to reevaluate the relationship between stature and body mass and Schmorl’s nodes. For this purpose, skeletal samples from Lithuania (44 males and 19 females) and Poland (97 males and 60 females) were used. The study confirmed that Schmorl’s nodes are age-independent, and more frequent in males (12.63% on the superior and 19.32% on the inferior surface of vertebrae) than in females (6.23% and 12.29% respectively). Obtained results also suggest that high stature (e.g. Spearmann correlation for superior: R=0.20 p=0.017, and inferior: R=0.31 p=0.000 surface of vertebrae) and body mass (R=0.25, p=0.002 and R=0.32, p<0.001, respectively) are factors that increase the risk of Schmorl’s nodes. Authors hypothesize that the afore-mentioned body size traits alter loadings acting on intervertebral discs, and rigidity of the spine.

Baranto A, Hellström M, Nyman R, Lundin O, Swärd L. 2006. Back pain and degenerative abnormalities in the spine of young elite divers: A 5-year follow-up magnetic resonance imaging study. Knee Surgery, Sport Traumatol Arthrosc 14:907–14.

Buikstra J, Ubelaker D. 1994. Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains. Fayetteville, Ark: Arkansas Archaeological Survey.

Burke KL. 2012. Schmorl’s Nodes in an American Military Population: Frequency, Formation, and Etiology. J Forensic Sci 57:571–77.

Cook DJ, Yeager MS, Cheng BC. 2015. Range of Motion of the Intact Lumbar Segment: A Multivariate Study of 42 Lumbar Spines. Int J spine Surg 9:5.

Dar G, Masharawi Y, Peleg S, Steinberg N, May H, Medlej B, Peled N, Hershkovitz I. 2010. Schmorl’s nodes distribution in the human spine and its possible etiology. Eur Spine J 19:670–75.

Dar G, Peleg S, Masharawi Y, Steinberg N, May H, Hershkovitz I. 2009. Demographical aspects of Schmorl nodes. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 34:e312–e315.

Faccia KJ, Williams RC. 2008. Schmorl’s nodes: Clinical significance and implications for the bioarchaeological record. Int J Osteoarchaeol 18:28–44.

Han K, Rohlmann A, Zander T, Taylor W. 2013. Lumbar spinal loads vary with body height and weight. Medical Engineering & Physics 35:969–77.

Hilton RC, Ball J, Benn RT. 1976. Vertebral end-plate lesions (Schmorl’s nodes) in the dorsolumbar spine. Ann Rheum Dis 35:127–32.

Hollinshead W. 1976. Functional Anatomy of the Limbs and Back. Philadelphia.

Hulme PA, Boyd SK, Ferguson SJ. 2007. Regional variation in vertebral bone morphology and its contribution to vertebral fracture strength. Bone 41:946–57.

Jankauskas R. 1992. Degenerative changes of the vertebral column in Lithuanian paleoosteological material. Antropologie 30:109–19.

Jiménez-Brobeil SA, Oumaoui I AL, Souich P DU. 2010. Some types of vertebral pathologies in the argar culture (Bronze Age, SE Spain). Int J Osteoarchaeol 20:36–46.

Lovejoy CO, Meindl RS, Pryzbeck TR, Mensforth RP. 1985. Chronological metamorphosis of the auricular aurface of the ilium: a new method for the determination of adult skeletal age at death. Am J Phys Anthropol 68:15–28.

Markolf KL. 1972. Deformation of the thoracolumbar intervertebral joints in response to external loads: a biomechanical study using autopsy material. J Bone Joint Surg Am 54:511–33.

Martin R, Saller K. 1957. Lehrbuch der Anthropologie in Systematischer Darstellung mit Besonderer Berücksichtigung der Anthropologischen Methoden. Stuttgart: G Fischer.

Nagashima M, Abe H, Amaya K, Matsumoto H, Yanaihara H, Nishiwaki Y, Toyama Y, Matsumoto M. 2013. Risk factors for lumbar disc degeneration in high school American football players: a prospective 2-year follow-up study. Am J Sport Med 41:2059–64.

Navitainuck D, Meyer C, Alt KW. 2013. Degenerative alterations of the spine in an early mediaeval population from mannheim-seckenheim, Germany. HOMO 64:179–89.

Novak M, Martinčić O, Strinović D, Šlaus M. 2012. Skeletal and dental indicators of health in the late mediaeval (12-15th century) population from Nin, southern Croatia. HOMO 63:435–50.

Novak M, Šlaus M. 2011. Vertebral pathologies in two early modern period (16th-19th century) populations from Croatia. Am J Phys Anthropol 145:270–81.

Pfirrmann CW, Resnick D. 2001. Schmorl nodes of the thoracic and lumbar spine: radiographic-pathologic study of prevalence, characterization, and correlation with degenerative changes of 1,650 spinal levels in 100 cadavers. Radiology 219:368–74.

Piekarz I, Piontek J. 1999. Zmiany zwyrodnieniowe kręgoslupa w populacji średniowiecznej (XIV–XVII w.) ze Slaboszewa. Monografie Instytutu Antropologii UAM.

Plomp KA, Roberts CA, Vidarsdottir US. 2012. Vertebral morphology influences the development of Schmorl’s nodes in the lower thoracic vertebrae. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:572–82.

Plomp K, Roberts C, Vidarsdottir US. 2015. Does the correlation between schmorl’s nodes and vertebral morphology extend into the lumbar spine? Am J Phys Anthropol 157:526–34.

Resnick D, Niwayama G. 1978. Intravertebral disk herniations: cartilaginous (Schmorl’s) nodes. Radiology 126:57–65.

Ruff CB, Scott WW, Liu AY. 1991. Articular and diaphyseal remodeling of the proximal femur with changes in body mass in adults. Am J Phys Anthropol 86(3):397–413.

Saluja G, Fitzpatrick K, Bruce M, Cross J. 1986. Schmorl’s nodes (intravertebral herniations of intervertebral disc tissue) in two historic British populations. J Anat 145:87–96.

Silva MJ, Wang C, Keaveny TM, Hayes WC. 1994. Direct and computed tomography thickness measurements of the human, lumbar vertebral shell and endplate. Bone 15:409–14.

Šlaus M. 2000. Biocultural Analysis of Sex Differences in Mortality Profiles and Stress Levels in the Late Medieval Population From Nova Rača, Croatia. Am J Phys Anthr 111:193–209.

Sonne-Holm S, Jacobsen S, Rovsing H, Monrad H. 2013. The epidemiology of Schmorl’s nodes and their correlation to radiographic degeneration in 4,151 subjects. Eur Spine J 22:1907–12.

Stirland AJ, Waldron T. 1997. Evidence for Activity Related Markers in the Vertebrae of the Crew of the Mary Rose. J Archaeol Sci 24:329–35.

Todd TW. 1920. Age changes in the pubic bone. I. The male white pubis. Am J Phys Anthropol 3:285–334.

Trotter M, Gleser G. 1952. Estimation of stature from long bones of American Whites and Negroes. Am J Phys Anthropol 10:463–514.

Üstündağ H. 2009. Schmorl’s nodes in a post-medieval skeletal sample from Klostermarienberg, Austria. Int J Osteoarchaeol 19:695–710.

Wagner AL, Murtagh FR, Arrington JA, Stallworth D. 2000. Relationship of Schmorl’s nodes to vertebral body endplate fractures and acute endplate disk extrusions. Am J Neuroradiol 21:276–81.

Wang Y, Battié MC, Boyd SK, Videman T. 2011. The osseous endplates in lumbar vertebrae: Thickness, bone mineral density and their associations with age and disk degeneration. Bone 48:804–09.

Wang YXJ, Griffith JF. 2011. Menopause causes vertebral endplate degeneration and decrease in nutrient diffusion to the intervertebral discs. Med Hypotheses 77:18–20.

Williams FMK, Manek NJ, Sambrook PN, Spector TD, MacGregor AJ. 2007. Schmorl’s nodes: Common, highly heritable, and related to lumbar disc disease. Arthritis Care Res 57:855–60.

Woo EJ, Pak S. 2014. The relationship between the two types of vertebral degenerative joint disease in a Joseon dynasty population, Korea. Int J Osteoarchaeol 24:675–87.

Zhang N, Li FC, Huang YJ, Teng C, Chen WS. 2010. Possible key role of immune system in Schmorl’s nodes. Med Hypotheses 74:552–54.

Anthropological Review

The Journal of Polish Anthropological Society

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.70

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.282
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.439


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 212 210 10
PDF Downloads 78 77 3