How Do Genetics and Lifestyle Impact Back Pain?

You got your hair color from your mother’s side, and your height from your father’s, but who did you inherit your back pain from? As implausible as that question may sound, medical research has found that a person’s DNA may indicate whether they are more susceptible to conditions which cause chronic back pain.

This research could answer the question of how genetics and lifestyle impact back pain, leading to better approaches to medical treatment.

Types of Chronic Back Pain

Anyone who has suffered from back pain knows how debilitating it can be, interfering with the ability to do even the simplest tasks. One of the more common types of back pain is due to lumbar disk degeneration. The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae, each one separated and protected by disks.

Over time, these disks can become dehydrated and lose their cushion-like shape or begin to bulge out. When this occurs, the vertebrae the disk is supposed to be protecting can develop bony growths, or osteophytes.

Until recently, the medical community assumed that it was just a patient’s lifestyle choices that determined whether they were at risk for degenerate disk problems. Factors such as the patient’s age, posture, occupation, diet, amount of exercise, and tobacco use do contribute to back problems, however, multiple studies have determined genetic factors can also play a role.

These studies all concluded that an individual who has relatives with disk issues has an increased risk of also developing problems, regardless of their lifestyle choices or environmental factors. The more immediate the family member with back problems is, the higher the risk is of developing the same back problems.

Additional studies have also identified genes which produce a protein that is linked to sciatica, another painful back condition.

How Genetics and Lifestyle Affect Back Pain

Just as in any medical condition a person could be predisposed to, there are important lifestyle choices someone can make which can help decrease their risks of developing disk disease. These choices are just as important if they suffer from disk or some other painful back problem. The healthier the choices someone makes, the better chance they have of minimizing chronic pain and its interference in their life.

Maintaining a healthy diet helps promote better back health since being overweight puts pressure on back muscles. It is also important to participate in low-impact aerobic activity on a regular basis. Activities like walking, swimming, and yoga help increase muscle flexibility and strength.

It is critical, however, to stretch properly before engaging in any physical activity. Adding a routine of back strengthening exercises can also help reduce back pain.

Being aware of keeping good posture and other proper body mechanics can also go a long way in combatting against chronic back pain, even if someone inherited a “back pain” gene.

Seeking Help from a Spine Doctor

Studies are suggesting that back pain can be genetic. However, that does not mean you have to live with it. There are simple life changes you can make that can help you decrease the impact of your back pain.

If you have questions about how genetics and lifestyle impact back pain, contact a spine doctor to find out how skilled doctors in Tampa can help. Whether your back pain is caused by an accident, genetics, or other factors, they can develop an effective treatment program and provide advice and guidance on to help you obtain a pain-free life.