If My Parents Have Back Problems, Will I?

Feb 02, 2024

If My Parents Have Back Problems, Will I?

While lifestyle factors, injuries, and aging are commonly associated with back issues, there’s an ongoing debate about the role of genetics in developing these conditions. So, what does that mean for your back health?

Our multispecialty team at Coastal Spine, with six New Jersey locations, has significant expertise in diagnosing and treating painful neck, back, and joint conditions that can disrupt your routine and mobility. We’re dedicated to preventing these problems when we can.

Read how genetics may play a role in your back condition and why it matters.

Understanding the basics of back pain

Back pain may be short-term (acute) or last for an extended period (chronic) and can have various causes, which may include:

Muscle or ligament damage

Overuse or improper use of the muscles and ligaments in the back can lead to strains or sprains, which can cause pain. Lifting heavy objects, sudden awkward movements, or poor posture are common culprits.

Structural problems

Issues with the spine's structure, such as herniated discs, stenosis, or degenerative disc disease, are common causes of back pain and decreased mobility.


This condition weakens the bones and can lead to compression fractures in the spine.

Nerve compression

Herniated discs, spinal stenosis (spinal canal narrowing), and other structural changes can put pressure on spinal nerves, causing pain that may travel into the neck, shoulders, legs, or arms.


Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory processes can result in pain and decreased mobility.

Poor posture

Sitting or standing in a hunched position for extended periods is a common cause of neck and back pain.


Smoking impairs blood flow to the spine and contributes to disc degeneration.

Excess weight, physical inactivity, and the natural wear-and-tear of aging also contribute to back problems.

The genetic link to back problems

Research studies have suggested there may be a genetic component to certain back conditions.

For instance, genetic variations may increase your risk of ankylosing spondylitis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that most often affects the spine. 

Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, and other common conditions like early disc degeneration and stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal may also have a genetic component.

However, it's essential to note that while genetics may influence your risk factors, your DNA doesn’t guarantee you will or won’t develop back problems.

Reducing your risk factors

Individuals may be genetically susceptible to certain back conditions, but environmental influences can determine whether these conditions manifest.

For example, a healthy weight, regular exercise, and appropriate posture can help prevent unusual wear-and-tear on the joints, bones, and spinal discs. We encourage everyone to adopt back-friendly habits such as good posture and proper lifting techniques, but especially if you’re at increased risk due to genetics.

If you have back pain, whether influenced by genetic factors or not, treatment at Coastal Spine begins with a thorough evaluation. Your assessment may include advanced imaging studies, available on-site for your convenience, to identify the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Once we’ve addressed the condition causing your back or neck pain, our specialists work with you to develop a prevention strategy that can help reduce your risks.

Schedule an evaluation at Coastal Spine today by calling the office nearest you or requesting an appointment online.