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You may believe that your back or leg pain is only being caused by mechanical pressure on a nerve.  Mechanical pressure can play a role, but did you know that pain producing chemicals have been identified in your spine? Read on to learn how we deal with this chemical irritation. 

In recent years we have learned that there is a strong chemical component to back and nerve pain. I think we are still in the infancy of understanding this process and all the ramifications.

A recent study in European Spine Journal took a look at how the levels of inflammatory chemicals in the discs impacted a person’s pain levels and disability.  They biopsied both the inside of the disc (nucleus pulposes) and the outer layers of disc (annulus fibrousus). 34 patients studied with an average age of 53 years.

The study concluded that both the intensity of low back pain and the degree of disability was associated with the level of these inflammatory chemicals in the disc. 

As treating physicians this is important information for us to know. We must ask ourselves what treatments might help reduce the production of these chemicals? More research must be done but we do our best to apply the knowledge we currently have. 

We know chronic compression is one of the reasons these chemicals are produced. That is why I use Cox distraction manipulation to decompress the discs in an effort to reduce the mechanical and chemical effects of compression. I also recommend glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation to reduce inflammation and improve the health of the disc. Other supplements such as curcumin have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.  



Sanjay S Aripaka, R BechAzeddine, L M Jørgensen, S A Chughtai, C Gaarde, T Bendix, J D

Mikkelsen: Low Back Pain Scores Correlate With The Cytokine Mrna Level In Lumbar Disc

Biopsies: A Study Of Inflammatory Markers In Patients Undergoing Lumbar Spinal Fusion. Eur

Spine J 2021

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