The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between degenerative joint disease (DJD) in the apophyseal joints and intervertebral joints in the vertebral column and assess which vertebral DJD is the more reliable indicator of general activity-related stress. We hypothesized that the more reflecting vertebral DJD for general activity-related stress would appear to show a higher correlation with Schmorl's nodes (SNs). To test this hypothesis, we examined 125 individuals from Eunpyeong Cemetery (mid-15th to early 20th centuries) in Seoul, Korea and analyzed the frequencies of two types of vertebral DJD and their relationship with SNs. Cross-tabulation chi-square tests were used to evaluate the significance of the differences between frequencies of vertebral pathologies.
In conclusion, results revealed that the relationship between the two kinds of vertebral DJD appeared differently depending on vertebral region, joint type and sex. The test results of association between the two types of vertebral DJD were statistically significant at the cervical and lumbar regions of males. SNs appeared independently of the pattern of vertebral DJD in nearly all joints with the exception of a correlation between DJD in the intervertebral joints and SNs of the lumbar region in females.
As indicated in some studies, this study reconfirmed that the differences in the two kinds of vertebral DJD result from differences in normal vertebral morphology and anatomical function. This study contributes to the overall discussion on the relationship between vertebral DJD and physical activity by showing that the detailed recording and understanding of the two types of vertebral DJD is required before they can be used convincingly in a study on activity-related stress. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.