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Disc nutrition linked to back pain

Lower back pain may be the result of stressful physical activity that cuts off nutrient supply to spinal disc cells, new research suggests.

Spanish scientists used computer models to determine the link between poor nutrient flow to the disc and degenerative disease.

The team at the Institute for Bioengineering in Barcelona examined how the human spinal disc responds to mechanical changes and nutrient levels. Researchers also assessed the impact of changes such as height of the disc and cell density.

They found that intense activities, such as heavy lifting, bending and twisting, can prevent disc cells from getting adequate nutrients.

When cell nutrition is affected, healthy discs that would otherwise age normally become progressively degenerative and cause back pain.

However, the researchers said cells are nourished well with normal levels of exercise.

The findings, published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, may improve our understanding of the reasons for lower back pain which is believed to affected nearly four out of five active people at some point in their lives.

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PLoS Computational Biology