Prevalence of Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease Varies With Gender

The purpose of the study was to determine if there were any gender differences in the prevalence of cervical degenerative disc disease.

Women are 1.38 times more likely than men to have cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD), according to research presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) in Palm Springs, California.

Conducted by Meda Raghavendra, MD, and Joseph Holtman, MD, PhD, of Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, the study adds to the growing body of research on the differences between how men and women experience pain.

“Females are more likely to present to the pain clinic than males with chronic pain conditions, but not much is known about the gender differences in the prevalence of cervical DDD in patients treated at an academic center pain clinic,” the researchers wrote.

Previous research has found that women are more likely to be treated at pain clinics for chronic pain and that certain painful conditions — such as fibromyalgia or migraines — are more common in women. Possible explanations have been proposed, including hormonal differences and the belief that men may be less willing to report pain than women.

In order to determine if there are any gender differences in the prevalence of cervical DDD. the researchers examined 3337 patients (2047 women (61%), 1290 men (39%)) who presented at Loyola’s Pain Management Center between January 2012 and December 2014. They collected data on patient demographics, BMI, and tobacco use, and divided the participants into 2 groups by gender.

Of the 3337 patients who presented to the pain clinic, 133 had cervical DDD, and 91 of those patients were women. Prevalence in females (4.5%) tended to be 1.38 times higher than in males (3.3%) with 95% CI (0.95 – 2.01) (p= 0.09). Obesity was 2.97 times higher (95% CI: 1.37 – 6.45) (P= .01) in males, and age and tobacco use were similar in men and women.


“While females present[ed] more than males (3:2) to the academic center pain clinic with all conditions, the prevalence of cervical DDD [was] 4%. Females are 1.38 times more likely to have cervical DDD,” the researchers concluded.

These results were presented in abstract form and have yet to undergo the peer review process prior to full-length research article publication.


Raghavendra M, Holtman J. Gender Differences in the Prevalence of Cervical Degenerative Disk Disease. Abstract 186. Presented at: American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAMP) 2016 Annual Meeting. March 16-19, 2016; Orlando, Florida. Abstract 186.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor