The human spine is a marvel of strength, but it’s also a delicate and complex structure. From the muscles that support your spine to the discs that separate each vertebra, your back is similar to a finely tuned machine that you must maintain and care for so it functions properly.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, back pain is sometimes inevitable. Many injuries can’t be avoided, and even something as simple as sleeping in an awkward position can send waves of pain through your back. And research suggests that this pain, especially as you age, may have a genetic component. That’s right: you could be hard-wired for back pain.
Researchers at University of Utah’s School of Medicine studied the health and family history of more than two million people. They discovered that people are four times as likely to experience lower back or lumbar pain if they have an immediate family member who also had it.
The study focused on people diagnosed with lower spine disease and the pain associated with degenerating and/or herniated discs. When a more distant family member, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin had degenerative disc disease, study participants were two to three times more likely to experience lumbar pain than those without a family connection.
In another study, researchers at King’s College London identified a gene linked to Lumbar Disc Degeneration (LDD), a condition in which the discs in the lower back deteriorate and cause pain. Their research shows that a gene known as PARK2 could be switched off in people with LDD.
Reducing the Risk of Back Pain
While ongoing research confirms that back pain may be in your genes and it could be inevitable as you age, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing pain in your spine, no matter what kind of family history you were born with. Steps you can take when you know you’re at a higher risk include:
- Maintain a healthy weight. You’re more likely to suffer from lower back when you are overweight or obese.
- Stay in shape. Performing cardiovascular and strengthening exercise helps keep your muscles strong and flexible, reducing the risk of injury.
- Stand tall. Good posture reduces the strain on your spine.
- Stop smoking. Smoking reduces the moisture content in the discs, allowing them to dry out and making them more prone to degeneration.
- Maintain a relationship with an experienced spinal doctor and don’t overlook what you may think is only minor complaints; in your case, they could be the start of something more serious.
Back Pain Treatment
If you’re experiencing lumbar pain, it doesn’t have to last forever. With treatment such as pain management, massage, physical therapy and exercise, you could notice your pain decreasing and your spine feeling stronger.
The professionals at Southeastern Spine Institute are experts at helping you control and treat your back pain as non-invasively as possible. More than just a doctors’ office, the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) is a comprehensive care center that’s equipped with everything from an on-site pharmacy to an in-house surgery center.
While surgery is always a last resort, it may be necessary. And if it is, the surgeons at SSI are committed to using the latest advances in spinal treatment, allowing you to be back on the go as quickly and painlessly as possible, while ensuring optimal results. Back pain may be in your genes, but it doesn’t have to rule your life.