BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6949.282 (Published 23 July 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:282

Research workers in the United States obtained magnetic resonance images of the spines of 98 asymptomatic volunteers. Neuro-radiologists who examined the scans (mixed with scans from patients with backache) found that half the normals had a “bulge” and one quarter a “protrusion” (New England Journal of Medicine 1994;331:69-73). If so many people without backache have apparent abnormalities what conclusions should be drawn from the scan results in people with symptoms?

The World Cup will have encouraged even more people to play soccer, but it is not an ideal sport from a medical perspective. A review in the “Southern Medical Journal” (1994;87:S74-8) of exercise and arthritis includes soccer with ballet dancing in a shortlist of activities which may predispose to osteoarthritis. Nevertheless, most people would benefit from kicking a ball around - if only because it might help and encourage them to lose weight.

Six toddlers living in a semirural area of Scotland became infected with a strain of Escherichia coli O157 phage type 49 producing verotoxin, and one developed the haemolytic uraemic syndrome (Epidemiology and Infection 1994;112:441-7). The infection was traced to a plastic paddling pool …

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