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Oxidative Stress and Low Back Pain

Oxidative Stress and Low Back Pain

A new study in the high impact orthopedic journal Spine discusses what we have seen for some time with patient care but have not been able to validate in the literature: oxidative stress contributes to low back pain.

This is a topic of huge importance.  As our patients know, we use a Raman Spectrometer (Biophotonic Scanner), not unlike the one Yale uses in their studies,  to determine the oxidative stress of our patients through means of a dermal carotenoid scan.  The Raman Spectrometer (RS) has been determined in many studies to offer clinicians the optimal way to analyze oxidative stress as the test is not costly to perform, is not invasive, and it makes it easy to track changes in diet/nutrition/supplementation.  This is important for all healthcare providers.  Being a sports chiropractor, I find the RS to be an absolute necessity for all of us who work in the neuromusculoskeletal fields.  Simply put, if we cannot assess oxidative stress, we have no idea if our patients are healthy and this directly affects clinical outcomes.  This is not only limited to low back pain.  We are not what we eat, but what we absorb. Working with unhealthy patients reduces the effectiveness of our treatments and we should know this before we commence treatment.  This is only fair to the patient. They need to know if they have hindered healing ability or not.

This new study discusses the effects of oxidative and nitrosative stress on the endplates (top and bottom of the vertebrae) with low back pain.  We know that degenerated discs and changes to bone cause pain, but what actually causes the pain?  We now know that oxidative stress can aggravate modic changes (end plate changes) and this is a contributor to pain.  This study also demonstrated that the body attempts to adapt to this  degenerative and painful situation. However, we propose that due to continued degeneration as a result of high oxidative stress in most individuals that their bodies are simply not healthy enough to properly heal.

Simply put, those with oxidative stress are more prone to low back pain (and really pain everywhere in the body) due to the inability of the body to adequately reduce the free radical insult.  The allosteric load, or ‘wear and tear’ on the body that accumulates over time, is simply too much for most people to combat and increased aging and degeneration occur. It is important to note that although this study is on low back pain, allosteric load can affect any part of the body.

So, what can be done about this?  There is a simple and easy solution to this problem:  reduction of oxidative stress. And to do so, you need to know your level of carotenoids (fatty acid antioxidants) as these are the best indicators of oxidative stress.  They have been determined to be the biomarker of health and nutrition status.  There are over 135,000 studies on the topic of oxidative stress and the importance of preventing high levels of such should be of everyones’ concern. Oxidative stress can be determined by several means, but most are costly and invasive.  This is why the Raman Spectrometer is the best way to go.  Again, it is non-invasive and inexpensive.

It comes down to this…do you value your health and want to be healthy as you age?  Do you want to do all you can to reduce allosteric load on your body? If so, find out your oxidative stress level now and if necessary, do something about it. Failure to do so will lead to a far greater likelihood of disease states as you age.

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