It’s not uncommon for patients who experience back problems or are diagnosed with a particular disease to realize it’s a diagnosis they have in common with an immediate relative. Though not much is known about a “back pain gene,” research has found that there are back pain-related issues that are passed down genetically. The best known such condition is a herniated disc. In fact, people with an immediate family member who has experienced pain from a herniated disc are four times more likely than the average person to face a similar problem. What can you do?
What Your Genetics Can Tell You
Whether or not you are currently dealing with any significant medical issue, it’s a good idea to have a general knowledge about the diseases and problems that have occurred throughout your family. You should at least be aware of health problems in your immediate family: Parents and siblings. The further out on the family tree you can get, however, the more forewarned you’ll be — grandparents, your parents’ siblings, and your cousins can also provide telling info. It’s not important to track every cough and cold; you just want to know about major illnesses and chronic conditions.
Depending on the nature of the disease or problems you are tracking, you will have a few options available to you. If you know, for example, that you have a parent and a grandparent who suffer from chronic back pain, it’s important to rule out non-genetic elements that could be the root of the problem. For example, working at a physically demanding job isn’t something that’s hereditary (well, maybe unless you inherit the family farm). Other health issues that can contribute to back pain, like obesity, can be addressed with preventative measures. Learning about health problems that “run in the family” can help you determine whether there are other factors you have that may increase your chances of developing one of these problems.
When you come in to meet with Dr. Kamson, it’s definitely worth mentioning your family history, particularly as it relates to back issues. Osteoporosis, arthritis, or even a bum knee are important to bring up as well. Knowing what health issues you may be more likely to face — even if they aren’t causing you trouble now — can help to determine a course of action that will better help you to find relief from pain.