Premature onset of degenerative disease of the cervical spine in rugby players

S Afr Med J. 1990 Jun 2;77(11):557-8.


Rugby players and other individuals with the changes of degenerative disease of the cervical spine are at risk of spinal cord trauma after hyperextension injury. In an attempt to assess whether rugby players are prone to the development of premature degenerative disease, radiographs of the cervical spines of 150 rugby players were compared with a control group of 150 male hospital patients. The study revealed that rugby players showed premature and advanced changes of degenerative disease when compared with the control group. These changes were most marked in the cervical spines of the tight forwards. Rugby players so affected are therefore more likely to present with the symptoms and signs of cervical osteo-arthrosis and are at greater risk of hyperextension injury to the cervical spinal cord.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Cervical Vertebrae*
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spinal Diseases / etiology
  • Time Factors