Study finds that back pain can be linked to a lack of nutrients

A study by Spanish experts has revealed that bending, twisting and heavy lifting can reduce the flow of nutrients to the disc cells in the back and therefore cause serious damage and pain.

By interfering with the balance of nutrients in the spinal discs, it can lead to the beginning of degenerative disease, causing things such as lower back pain. The findings of the study have been published in PLoS Computational Biology, which points to a normal level of physical activity helping cell nutrition.

Research carried out previously revealed that 80 per cent of the active population suffered from lower back pain at some point in their life, but there was not much known about the chain of events that cause normal healthy aging discs to turn into degenerative discs.

A team of researchers at Barcelona’s Institute for Bioengineering used computer models of the human disc to look at the mechanical and nutritional effects of stress on the discs of the lower back. The scientists were able to identify what happened when they changed the disc height, cell density and made degenerative changes to the disc.

The results exposed that external loads on the disc influenced the solute concentration, which is the amount of glucose and lactate that is present in the disc. It was concluded that the cells need glucose but do not want too much lactate, as this acid hampers the nutrition process and can lead to the onset of the degenerative process.

The research team believes the finding could open up new areas of investigation in the field of disc regenerative medicine.

The study author and expert in biomechanics and mechanobiology group at Barcelona’s Institute for Bioengineering, Dr Jerome Noailly said, “If we know that lack of nutrition is involved in accelerating the degenerative process and the properties of a degenerative disc hinder nutrition, then this will increase cell death and the disc tissue will start to degenerate more and more. In order to bring back the function of the degenerated disc, we must address the nutrition problem.”

View the original BBC News article here.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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