Low back pain is the second leading cause of disability in the US. When talking about the cause of back pain, people often think there must be an injury or accident, repetitive activities, or a pathology present for pain to be present. What if none of the aforementioned precursors is present? What if the cause of the pain is due to a decrease in blood to the tissues of the low back, more specifically the disc?
The intervertebral disc is a hydrostatic structure that depends upon movement and proper blood flow for transmission of nutrients. This means that when load is let off and added to it, it creates changes in pressures that push new blood flow in, while removing the old. There is a lot more complexity to it, but for purposes of this article, we are going to keep it simple.
Now for instance imagine that the tiny little capillary beds around the disc have atherosclerosis, also known as plaque, also known as cholesterol. This narrows, if not fully blocks these tiny capillary beds, which decreases the blood flow. This then decreases the nutrient and oxygen diffusion to the disc, ligaments, and tiny stabilizing muscles in the area. This leads to degeneration and tissue degradation.
What are some simple modifications we can make to stop this process? Well, the easiest thing is to decrease your cholesterol intake. Foods high in cholesterol are dairy products, red meat and eggs. It also would not hurt to add in some foods high in fiber, such as beans, chickpeas, and broccoli. I know this does not seem like the easiest decision for the person on the typical American diet, but it does sound like a better option than having progressive, chronic low back pain. Also, before you think about getting on a lipid or cholesterol lowering medication, look at the most common side effects of these statin drugs. The most commonly reported side effect is muscle pain and weakness. This is due to damage that the statin drugs cause the muscle. That may not be the best route for someone already suffering pain.
We are in control of our bodies and have the power to make many life improving changes that will affect our quality of life in the long run. The first step is education, the second is implementation. Let us know if we can help in any way!
This is just one example of how our diet can cause musculoskeletal pain. Keep following our blog each week to learn more!
Hope everyone has an awesome week!
Cindy VanSickler, DC, CCSP, Cert. MDT