Up to 80% of all Americans suffer from chronic back pain at some point in their life. If you’re one of them – that pain will most likely occur in your lower back, because it is subject to tremendous mechanical stress and strain.
Your spine is made up of more than 30 bones called vertebrae, stacked on top of each other. It supports your body weight and also houses and protects your spinal cord, which is made up of nerves that travel downwards from your brain to supply your entire body.
Your vertebrae are separated from each other by discs made of cartilage. If one of your spinal discs is damaged by injury or aging, it can bulge or become herniated. Herniated Discs can compress a nearby nerve root, leading to chronic back pain.
If you have a herniated disc that is pressing down on your sciatic nerve, you may feel sharp, shooting pains down the back of the leg, numbness and tingling in one or both legs, burning pain, weakness in one or both legs and in severe cases, loss of bladder and bowel control. Osteoarthritis is another common cause of nerve root damage, in which bone spurs or bits of protruding bone press on nerve roots.
So can you inherit chronic back pain?
Why does it happen that one person develops back problems while another person doesn’t? The answer may lie in their genes.
According to experts, if you examine the MRI scans of twins – one of whom does heavy physical work for a living, while the other sits all day at a desk job – the scans look almost identical. This strongly suggests that genetic factors play a crucial role in how back pain develops. So if you suffer from chronic back pain, it is possible that you’ve inherited the condition, but this does not mean that other factors are contributing to your pain. In fact, genetics may have absolutely nothing to do with your back pain.
Other causes of back pain include sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, lack of stretching and exercise, and muscle imbalances in the body.
Your lower back contains sensitive receptors called nociceptive receptors that send pain signals to your brain. Scientists have noted that while some people have many nociceptive fibers in their spinal discs, others have relatively few.
This might make the difference between lifting heavy weights or otherwise placing a heavy strain on your lower back without any problems, and being susceptible to chronic pain. Again, finding out the underlying cause of your back pain, is the first step to recovery.
Can you inherit chronic back pain? The jury is still out on that question, although the evidence seems to suggest it happens in some cases.
Here are a few tips to manage or prevent chronic back pain:
Rest – may be a good idea at first, but fight the urge to crawl into bed whenever your lower back acts up. When you have pain, the key is not to develop a “disease of disuse”. In fact, resting for longer than 1 or 2 days can lead to stiffness and persistent back pain.
Stretch and Exercise – As we have mentioned on our website before, learning about muscle imbalances in the body is the first step to recovery. Once a postural dysfunction is identified, specific, daily stretches and exercises can be performed to correct the dysfunction and restore balance in the body. Practicing gentle, restorative yoga can also be a good addition to a treatment program – with careful practice you can specifically target the tight and painful muscles in your lower back and stretch them to reduce back pain.
Posture – be conscious of the way you hold yourself in your everyday life when you’re sitting or moving, and especially when you’re doing back exercises. When lifting something, lift with your knees and not with your back. Using a back pain cushion such as the Freedom Back, can assist in keeping proper posture throughout the day, whether you are working, at home or driving in the car