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Genetics: The Role They Play In Spine Problems

Genetic Spine Problems

To many, genetics is a just a term used to explain why you were born with a certain hair or eye color, or why we are more likely to get sunburn. However, genetics are proving to hold the answers to many of life’s persistent questions and may even explain the source of your spine pain. Until recently, little has been done in the study of genetics and the spine, but new research is suggesting that genetics may play a role in spine conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis.

It is common for back and spine pain to be related to lifestyle issues, such as bad posture and the quality of your back exercises. However, while lifestyle still plays a significant role in preventing back and spine pain, you may want to pay extra-special attention to your back exercises if your mom, dad, aunt, uncle or second cousins have spine problems of their own.

In-Depth Research on Genetics and Spine Problems

Researchers have trouble identifying genetic patterns in spine problems because back pain is so ubiquitous. Ruling out environmental causes of back and spine pain is difficult since more than 13 million people visit their doctors each year complaining of pain in this region. Age, posture, working conditions and lifestyle choices like diet, exercise and smoking all play a role in developing back or spine pain.

More than one-third of women between the ages of 30 and 50 experience degenerative disc problems. Nearly eight out of 10 adults report lower back pain in their lives. It’s no wonder that researchers have so much difficulty isolating genetic factors.

Research Findings on Genetics and Spine Problems:

A number of exhaustive studies have begun to shine light on the genetic factors that contribute to spine pain:

  • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that African-American women are two to three times more likely to develop spondylolisthesis than Caucasian women. The condition causes vertebra in the lower spine to slip out of place.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of ongoing joint inflammation that primarily affects the spine, has been linked to heredity, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Several genes influence the risk of developing the chronic inflammatory arthritis condition while lifestyle issues exacerbate the risk.
  • Scientists have believed for some time that genes are involved in the development of lumbar disc degeneration because as many as four out of five people with LDD have family members with the same condition. In 2012, the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases reported that researchers isolated the gene responsible.
  • An exhaustive twin-spine study performed over a period of more than 20 years across a number of countries (including the U.S.), also came to the conclusion that genetics play a significant role in the development of lumbar disc degeneration

Tips For Fighting Off Genetics

As genetic studies continue and researchers isolate the culprits that put you at risk for developing certain spine problems, such as spondylitis, it becomes more important than ever to maintain effective back exercises — strengthening exercises that support your back — in addition to a healthy diet and proper body mechanics.

Learn More About Pacific Spine Specialists

If you are experiencing spine pain, Pacific Spine Specialists may be the cure you have been looking for. Spine Surgeon, Dr. Timothy Keenen, specializes in minimally invasive approaches to reduce pain and eliminate symptoms. Regardless if it is genetics or a spine injury causing your pain, Pacific Spine can help. Contact us today for a free MRI review.