Original paper

Is vertebral body osteophytosis a reliable indicator of occupational stress?

Myszka, Anna; Weiss, Elizabeth; Piontek, Janusz

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 71 No. 4 (2014), p. 381 - 389

published: Nov 1, 2014

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2014/0414

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ArtNo. ESP140007104005, Price: 29.00 €

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Abstract

Whether activity patterns cause vertebral body osteophytosis (VO) remains unanswered. Although, many previous researchers indicate physical activity as an etiological factor of VO, a number of recent studies have questioned this conclusion. Thus, using a sample of 101 adult males from medieval Poland, this current study examines whether individuals with VO have greater entheseal change (EC) scores since EC are commonly used as an indicator of activity. The sample was divided into younger adults (20 to 40 years old) and older adults (41 to 56 years old). Three aggregate variables (aggregate VO, upper limb ECs, and lower limb ECs) were created to determine whether VO may be useful in activity pattern reconstructions. No significant age differences were found and, thus, all correlations were run without age controls. A significant positive correlation was found between aggregate VO and lower limb EC (rho = 0.347, p < 0.01). The existence of the correlation between aggregate VO and lower limb EC in this study implies that vertebral osteophytosis may relate to occupational stresses and there may be similar etiologies present in VO and EC formation, but there remains much unexplained variance that suggests that VO and EC etiologies are complex.

Keywords

cedyniaentheseal changemedieval burial sitephysical activity patternspolandvertebral osteophytosis