It is natural to assume that physical strain will cause the
most physical damage to our bodies - yet when dealing with
back pain, many
other social and psychological factors may influence spinal
degeneration and pain more than physical forces. A recent
study in the journal Spine shows that spinal disc degeneration
may not be as closely related to heavy lifting and straining
of the back as other factors.
The study investigated multiple predictors of disc deterioration,
and a possible link between degeneration and low back pain.
Twenty- to 50-year-old individuals were examined using magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) initially and five years later to
determine disc degeneration. People with no degeneration were
used for comparison.
Regular heavy lifting was not a reliable predictor of spinal
disc degeneration, as one might expect. Factors that were
significantly linked to disc degeneration were as follows:
night shift work (increased risk by a staggering 23 times);
initial disc degeneration at the start of the study (increased
risk 13 times); and lack of sports participation. Interestingly,
although 41% of the people studied developed disc degeneration
over the five-year period, the relation between disc degeneration
and low back pain was insignificant.
No other factors were significant predictors of disc degeneration.
This study suggests that environmental and psychological factors
may influence disc degeneration more than occupational risk
factors, such as heavy lifting and regular twisting and bending.
This information also suggests that you should avoid night-shift
work: It can cause multiple health problems, because it forces
the body to fight its natural rhythms. To find out more about
degenerated or herniated discs, go to https://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/disc.html.
Elfering A, Semmer N, Birkhofer D, et al. Young Investigator
Award 2001 Winner: Risk factors for lumbar disc degeneration:
A 5-year prospective MRI study in asymptomatic individuals.
Spine 2002:27(2), pp. 125-134.