Scientists have discovered an additional risk factor for developing sciatic pain: your genes. Though researchers suspected that genes play a role in this often debilitating back problem, a 2012 study examined the impact of familial history on the risk of lumbar disc disease, which frequently causes sciatica.
A group of orthopedists from the University of Utah School of Medicine analyzed records from the Utah Population Database, which includes data dating back to early settlers. Using familial genealogy of 1, 264 patients, the researchers track the presence of lumbar disc disease over several generations. They found that having a close relative quadrupled your risk for lumbar disc disease. But if you’re parents didn’t have lumbar disc disease, you’re not off the hook: even having a distant cousin can elevate your risk.
Genetics isn’t the only cause of sciatica; mechanical stress on the spine, occupational loading, aging, and even smoking has been linked to sciatica. Learning whether you have a genetic risk of lumbar disc disease can help you take additional steps to prevent or minimize sciatic nerve pain. Contact a chiropractor to find out ways to ease sciatica and prevent it from returning.
Patel, Alpesh. William Ryan Spiker. Michael Daubs, Darrel Brodke, and Lisa A. Cannon-Albright. Evidence for an Inherited Predisposition to Lumbar Disc Disease. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. February 2011; 29(3): doi