Back Pain, Heart Disease Share Same Risk Factors Back pain and heart disease are two of the most common health conditions today. Back pain affects 85% of the population at some point and about 8% chronically, while heart disease is the top cause of death in the U.S. Fortunately, both of these conditions can be prevented in the same way.
The connection lies in your arteries. High cholesterol levels, usually resulting from poor diet, excess weight and lack of exercise, can led to atherosclerosis, or the thickening of artery walls. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that has many positive uses in the body but excess levels lead to clogged arteries and risk of cardiovascular disease.
What do arteries have to do with back pain? Muscles, bones and other body tissues rely on blood flow for intake of nutrients and oxygen and for the flushing out waste products. A restriction of blood flow can lead to degeneration of tissues.
In 2009, researchers reviewed 25 studies that included results on atherosclerosis and back pain. They found that narrowing of the lumbar arteries was associated with degenerated discs (including herniated discs) and general lower back pain. Some studies specifically tied smoking and high cholesterol to disc degeneration and back pain.
Back pain and heart disease share the risk factors of high cholesterol and excess weight. Preventing both conditions therefore involves similar measures. You can lower your cholesterol and weight by doing the following:
1 Lose weight if you are overweight. The Mayo Clinic reports that losing 5-10% of your body weight can significantly reduce your cholesterol levels.
2 Choose your foods wisely. Foods high in cholesterol (fatty meats, egg yolks, full-fat dairy products such as milk and cheese) should be limited or replaced completely by lower-cholesterol alternatives (lean meats, egg substitutes, low-fat milk and cheese). Increase your intake of high-fiber foods, such as oatmeal, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which help to lower cholesterol levels. Use olive oil in place of other types of oil or butter.
3 Foods with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseeds, herring and mackerel, can help lower cholesterol levels.
4 Exercise a little - up to 30 minutes - everyday. This doesn't require a trip to the gym. Briskly walking for 10 minutes 3 times a day can help you maintain or get to a healthy weight. Park a few blocks from work; walk around town while running errands. 5Quit smoking. According to the Mayo Clinic, smokers who quit have half the risk of heart disease as a smoker just one year after quitting. Smoking also increases risk of back pain, since it prevents nutrients and fluids from entering spinal discs.
Eating right and exercising regularly are lifestyle changes that help prevent two of the most common health conditions affecting the general population today. You can increase your life span and improve your quality of life with the same measures.
Safe choices for pain management solutions exist. Educate yourself in alternative solutions for back pain management. Please ask questions, give comments or stories related to this article submission regarding back pain management