The progression of vertebral osteoporosis: the correlations between vertebral pathologies and sociodemographic risk factors
Kroll, Jennifer Ann
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This study examines the possible correlations between vertebral osteoporosis, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, Schmorl’s nodes, vertebral osteoarthritis, osteophytosis, and laminal spurs. Further, this study examines the effects of sex, age, ancestry, and occupation on the vertebral pathologies. A total of 238 individuals (54 African Americans and 184 randomly selected European Americans) from the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were analyzed. Vertebral pathologies and anomalies were assessed using visual morphometric scoring methods outlined in previous research. It is hypothesized that positive correlations exist between osteoporosis and other vertebral pathologies and a positive correlation exists between vertebral pathologies and strenuous occupations. It is also hypothesized that there is a difference in the prevalence of vertebral pathologies between European American and African American ancestries due to African Americans generally showing higher bone mineral density than European Americans (Aloia 2008). The results of this research demonstrate numerous relationships: females are correlated with more severe osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and spondylolisthesis, while males correlate with Schmorl’s nodes; European Americans are correlated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, osteophytosis, and Schmorl’s nodes, while African Americans are correlated with laminal spurs; individuals 40 years or older are correlated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, Schmorl’s nodes, and laminal spurs; and lastly, labor intensive occupations (i.e., construction worker) are correlated with osteoarthritis, osteophytosis, and Schmorl’s nodes, all with p-values less than 0.05. The majority of the pathological conditions also correlate with each other, for example, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. This research demonstrates how pathological conditions correlate with sociodemographic risk factors and with other pathological conditions, which can help with the identification process of skeletal remains in archaeological and forensic contexts.