Most people don’t think about the origin of chronic back pain (CBP) until they’re living with it. Even then, there’s a tendency to attribute spine-related discomfort to things like overdoing it at the gym, work-related tasks, poor posture, or injuries sustained while playing sports. While these are certainly some of the many factors that can contribute to chronic back pain, one that doesn’t often come to mind is genetics. Are your parents to blame for your lingering back pain? If so, how you can tell if this may be the case
The basis for this discussion of chronic back pain and genes stems from new research that has resulted in the identification of three new genes linked to CBP. Specifically, these genes have been associated with:
• Skeleton formation and cartilage defects • An increased risk of developing a herniated disc • Spinal cord development
Researchers believe the expression of these three genes increases an individual’s risk of developing issues with spine-related conditions that tend to be chronic. Does this mean you can automatically blame your CBP on your genes and consider it something beyond your control?
Just because you may be at an increased risk for developing CBP conditions doesn’t mean you have to accept your fate. Let’s say you have three specific genetic characteristics and a friend of yours doesn’t. Also, let’s say you’re normally mindful of your health and your friend regularly stresses and strains his or her back, slouches when sitting, and doesn’t pay too much attention to his or her overall health. In this case, your friend would be more likely to have chronic back pain, even though you have the genetic disadvantage.
Whether or not you’re at an increased risk for CBP, there are steps you can take to naturally lower your odds of being affected by this type of pain. Generally, your spine will be more likely to stay healthy if you:
• Get regular exercise that includes targeting the core muscles that directly or indirectly support your spine • Stick with a nutrient-rich diet • Drink plenty of water • Watch your posture when sitting, standing, and sleeping • Practice proper and safe lifting techniques • Avoid staying in the same position for too long • Get regular physical exams so you can discuss back pain concerns with your doctor to detect and treat issues early
There’s research suggesting certain forms of arthritis may be, in part, genetic. Arthritis is one of the underlying health conditions that can affect the spine and its supporting discs, joints, and vertebrae. If you have osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—the two most common forms of arthritis known to affect the spine in some way—you could naturally be at a greater risk of developing chronic back pain conditions.
However, if your arthritis is contributing to sciatic nerve pressure, for instance, the sciatica itself isn’t genetic, because true sciatica is caused by lower back problems. Also, sciatica and arthritis are classified as two different types of pain. Sciatica is defined as pain due to a pinched nerve. Once the source of nerve irritation is gone, you’ll likely still have arthritis pain but not sciatic nerve pain.
The same concept can be applied to other common sources of CBP. For example, you could have chronic back pain caused by a herniated disc even if you don’t have the gene that’s linked to an increased risk of disc herniation.
What all of this means is that the role genetics may play in your CBP is largely dependent on what’s causing it. Therefore, the only way to know for sure if chronic back pain might be “in your genes” to some extent is to:
• Get a proper diagnosis from a Beverly Hills spine surgeon when you experience ongoing back pain • Share your family and medical history with your primary doctor • Discuss any underlying health issues you’re experiencing
Fortunately, your luck of the genetic draw is rarely the main determining factor when it comes to chronic back pain. The fact that one or both of your parents or a sibling has spine-related problems doesn’t necessarily mean you will. In fact, lifestyle habits involving exercise, diet, posture, and sleep patterns tend to have a much greater impact on overall spine health and the odds of experiencing disruptive symptoms than anything that may be going on with genes.
Chronic back pain can have several causes, and genetics may be one of them. Even if you’ve inherited genes that carry a higher risk for conditions that cause back pain, healthy lifestyle patterns can offset many of those potential negative effects. If you have chronic back pain, no matter what the cause, relief is available. Whether back pain needs to be alleviated by non-surgical methods such as physical therapy or a surgical procedure such as a state-of-the-art spinal fusion alternative, Beverly Hills residents trust the spinal health experts at The Spine Institute to diagnose and treat their back pain and get them back to their normal activities as soon as possible. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.