Since my first spine blog is during the holidays, I wanted to start this blog by wishing everyone a Happy Holidays. I hope everyone has a great end to 2011 and hope everyone has a great 2012 ahead. For me, 2011 has been a season of new beginnings as my wife and I moved to Michigan after living in Georgia. Although the cold has been a big change, we enjoy living here, and for me, it has been a blessing to meet all you new people in clinic.
In my first blog, I wanted to discuss a new possible treatment in spinal disc degeneration, a possible cause of low back pain (LBP). LBP associated with degenerative disc disease is a common clinical problem that has a tremendous socio-economic impact in today’s aging population. Economic losses have been estimated to exceed 90 billion dollars per year as eight of every ten adults will, at some point, suffer from LBP that impairs activities of daily living. Despite the significant impact, the exact pathophysiology of LBP is not yet understood. Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration has been associated with LBP, but a direct correlation has not been confirmed.
Unfortunately, we do not have a cure for IVD. Usually, IVD is beyond repair and nothing short of physical therapy and rarely surgery can help patients suffering from this disease. All treatments do not attempt to reverse IVD but rather treat the symptoms associated with the IVD or sometimes fuse the spine to prevent motion at the degenerated disc level.
What if we were able to catch IVD early enough and possibly reverse IVD?
This is the “holy grail” for many spine researchers. One possible solution or treatment that could do this is red wine. Yes, you heard me; the same red wine that physicians have said it helps your heart.
During my training, I had the privilege of working at RUSH in Chicago, IL with many well known researchers. One experiment we did was looking if resveratrol, the chemical found in red wine that is suppose to have all the health benefits, could reverse disc degeneration. In cow spines, we found that exposing resveratrol to the cells found in the spinal disc could slow the progression of IVD. This is many steps from claiming red wine could prevent back pain, but it is interesting.
For those more scientific inclined, you read the article at http://danielparkmd.com/pdf/action-resveratrol-phytoestrogen-intervertebral-disc.pdf
So as you enjoy the holidays with a glass of red wine, perhaps this could also prevent back pain in the future!
Don’t forget however that all red wines are not equal in resveratrol concentration. Pinot Noir consistently has been found to have the highest concentration, so cheers to everyone this holiday season while holding their favorite pinot!