Genetic Factors Modulating Chronic Back Pain

Julia Metzner and Irmgard Tegeder

in From Acute to Chronic Back Pain

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199558902
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191753343 | DOI:
Genetic Factors Modulating Chronic Back Pain

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The manifestation of back pain is contributed by structural, psychosocial, and occupational influences (Hartvigsen et al. 2004). Biochemical and inflammatory factors modulate the transition of acute towards chronic pain and genetic factors may impact on any of these factors. Research has been mainly focused on genes that determine bone and cartilage structure and are accompanied by morphological signs in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Genetic associations were found for disc height narrowing, disc herniation, and different definitions of back pain, such as duration of the worst back pain episode and hospitalization for back problems (Battie et al. 2007). The heritability estimates for these back pain variables ranged from 30–45% (Battie et al. 2007).

However, only a minority of the genetic influences was caused by genes affecting disc degeneration suggesting that genes involved in pain perception, signalling, and psychological processing (Foulkes and Wood 2008), and genetic variants of immune genes (Solovieva et al. 2004b) contribute to the proportion of heritability of chronic back pain. The genetic variability in pain signalling pathways contributes to the variance in pain sensitivity and the individual response to treatment strategies. In this chapter we will summarize genetic factors that specifically modify intervertebral disc stability and pain signalling that may independently impact on the risk of developing chronic back pain.

Chapter.  7028 words. 

Subjects: Neuroscience ; Pain Medicine

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