We have a tendency to blame mom and dad for a lot when it comes to our health, disposition, and appearance. The genes passed down to us determine a lot about who we become. Dark or light-skinned, blonde or brunette, tall or short, shy or outgoing – nearly all of it bears some connection to our parents. Even more importantly, medical conditions and health factors within our families can largely determine the ones we may experience for ourselves. Yet, despite the overwhelming role that our genetic makeup plays, few ever think to correlate it to back pain.
Back pain is a common thread among Americans. As many as 80% of us will experience it to some degree at some point, and a great many find it to be chronic and debilitating. Naturally, there a large number of lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to the epidemic. Lack of exercise, being overweight, or participating in particularly physical activities can all increase the likelihood of a back injury. That being said, signs point to a genetic component as well, particularly for certain conditions.
Genetics and Degenerative and Herniated Discs
To date, the most thorough and solid research of the connection between genetics and chronic back pain comes from that focused on degenerative and herniated discs. Taking into account environmental factors such as those previously mentioned, researchers were still able to find a clear link. Patients who had a second or third-degree relative with these conditions were found to be more susceptible to developing them themselves. However, it was those with an immediate family member for whom the numbers shot up, raising their risk by more than four times.
Genetics and Sciatica
The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body, running from the lower back down the leg. It is very susceptible to irritation, which often manifests itself in low back pain. While less comprehensive, other studies indicate two variations of a collagen protein producing gene that may be linked to not only disc herniation, but sciatica as well.
The bottom line would appear to be that chronic back pain conditions likely have a strong genetic component. While research has only touched on a couple of pain-inducing conditions, it is likely that we will discover more. So, if mom, dad, grandpa, or even a cousin suffers from a condition such as degenerative disc disease, there is a likelihood that you too are predisposed to the same problems.
With the knowledge that back troubles are possibly hereditary, you can stay a step ahead by actively caring for your health. Adjust lifestyle factors accordingly, and care for your back with regular chiropractic appointments. If you are located in the Gastonia or Belmont area, click here to request your own appointment with SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers.