Atherosclerosis And Back Pain

Back pain is pretty common in Western nations. As people age deterioration in the discs of the spine cause the outer hard coating to disintegrate and this exposes the inner soft parts of the disc. The soft inner content can then spills over from its location within the vertebrae and this can impinge on surrounding nerves causing pain. In addition, nerve fibres can grow into the now softer disc resulting is further pain and discomfort.

Modern Medicine

The modern medical approach to back pain is often surgical in nature. However, studies show that surgery often makes no difference to the levels of back pain felt by patients. In fact in many cases the pain levels increase post-surgery. In addition, modern medicine suggests that those with back pain ‘take it easy’ and avoid exercise. However, this strategy has also been shown to be ineffective and current recommendations from studies suggest that exercise is beneficial.


It is surprising to many to learn that atherosclerosis does not just affect the arteries of the heart. Atherosclerosis, a condition that results in a thinning of the arteries and a loss of their elasticity, can also affect other areas of the body. In particular, atheroscerotic arteries are often found in the lumbar vertebrae. This atherosclerosis has been hypothesised to be a leading cause of back pain, because the diseased arteries cannot supply adequate blood to the discs of the vertebrae.

Diet And Nutrition

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the diet. A low quality diet such as the typical Western diet increases levels of oxidative stress in the body because it are devoid of meaningful levels of plant phytonutrients, the main source of antioxidants for humans. In addition, Western diets are low in omega-3 long chain fatty acids. This increases oxidative stress in the body and overtime this causes deterioration in the endothelial lining of the arteries.

Endothelial Dysfunction

Oxidative stress in the endothelial lining of the arteries depletes them of nitric oxide. This is because high levels of free radicals inhibits the enzyme that produces nitric oxide. Because nitric oxide is required for the relaxation of arteries, oxidative stress results in inelastic arteries that cannot respond correctly to blood flow with dilation. This causes damage to the lining of arteries and this ultimately result in the development of atherosclerosis.

Diet And Back Pain

A high quality diet can cause atherosclerosis to regress because it can reverse endothelial dysfunction. Many studies have shown that single servings of various plant food rich in antioxidants can improve flow mediated dilation and thus increase blood flow rates. Improving the diet is therefore pivotal if lower back degeneration is to be halted and reversed. A high quality diet will also reverse the blockages in the coronary arteries and thus prevent heart attacks.


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