Debunking the Idea of the Inevitability of Low Back Pain: What You Can do to Lower Your Risk

One of the tricky questions I often get when patients are dealing with recurrent lumbar pain especially, is whether or not there is an inherited familial predisposition to develop lower back pain.

The answer is mostly no, but it still has a few shades of gray scales. You will inherit certain spinal characteristics from your parents: slight variations in the collagen protein that makes up your spinal discs, supporting ligaments, and some spinal congenital anomalies that increase the mechanical stress to your spine. And families can sometime engage in the same type of occupation or hobby that carries a higher risk of injuries. However, the majority of your risk is related to your individual risk factors such as injuries and lifestyle choices (and indeed we tend to learn a lot of our habits, good and bad, with our folks).

This large scale review of modifiable risk factors for low back pain was co-authored by a DC colleague, who brings a slightly more hands-on, clinical perspective to data interpretation. The bottom line: do not be fatalistic about your risk of developing lower back pain as inevitable and be diligent in doing your part. In addition to some well known predisposing risks such as smoking, obesity, and inactivity was another biggie that is often overlooked: chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep is when we repair our soft tissues from the strains of the day and chronic sleep shortage creates a very poor environment for your frame to maintain its integrity.

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