Is Back Pain in Your Genes?

When it comes to the culprits behind back pain, most people would probably blame years of heavy lifting. But suppose that your genes might have a say when it comes to your risk of back pain? According to a recent study, three specific genes might have a considerable amount of influence on your back health.

Under the Microscope

Appearing in the journal PLOS Genetics, this report recruited a large number of volunteers ‒ approximately 158,000 adults participated in this study, all of whom were of European descent. Nearly one-fifth, or roughly 29,000, of these adults had a history of chronic back pain.

Upon analyzing this massive group of participants, the study authors were to pinpoint three specific genes that appeared to have a connection to chronic back pain. The gene most associated with this issue is known as SOX5. In addition, the study revealed that a second gene was connected to not only back pain, but also intervertebral disc herniation. Finally, the authors also described a third gene that is believed to impact spinal cord development, which in turn could put the body more at risk of significant back pain.

Where Does the Problem Start?

The study’s lead author, Dr. Pradeep Suri of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Seattle, noted that back pain may have more triggers than previously thought. “Chronic back pain is linked to changes in mood, and the role of the central nervous system in the transition from acute to chronic back pain is well-recognized,” stated Suri in a press release. “However, the top two genetic variants we identified suggest causes implicating the peripheral structures, such as the spine. We expect that further large-scale genetic studies will reveal the importance of both peripheral and central contributors to the complex experience of chronic back pain.”

On a global basis, back pain causes more cases of disability than any other condition. Prior studies have found a similar genetic component to back pain in laboratory mice.

Related Stories


From snowstorms to increasingly short days, there are plenty of reasons to dislike winter. Likewise, evidence suggests that increased …


1) When we “multitask,” the brain is actually switching its focus very quickly between two different tasks. 2) Water …


Ingredients: 1 lb. ground turkey 1 medium onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 large carrot, diced 2-3 cups …