50:40:10 principle

by | Jan 3, 2019 | Back Pain, Health, Pain

The three facts of life that govern your health.


Every day I get asked by a patient if their injury was as a result of something they did or was it a build up of problems. No matter what illness or injury you’re dealing with there are 3 things that determine your risk of developing that condition. I call this the 50:40:10 principle.

This newsletter is not designed to be alarmist but it is a fact of life that we are responsible for our own health and shouldn’t rely on others to somehow magically undo all the damage we do to ourselves. Medical research and treatments are improving all the time and will help but read on to see what the 50:40:10 principle is all about.



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50% of any problem is genetic. If everyone in your family as far back as you can remember has had a heart attack or needed a knee replacement well then there is a pretty strong possibility you’ll have the same fate. We can’t really change our genes – well, not yet anyway, so that makes the next two elements all the more important.




40% is lifestyle. This can have a big influence on your risk. If you are a professional footballer, marathon runner or overweight you are going to wear your knees out quicker and if you have that strong family history of knee replacements, well your 90% of the way to needing a replacement yourself. Similarly if you have a strong family history of heart disease, eat the wrong things, smoke, drink excessively, don’t exercise and get stressed well then you’re a heart attack waiting to happen.




10% is circumstances or bad luck. That’s not some mystical bad luck type thing that you have no control over but rather accidents, injuries, illness and environment.

Think of the footballer with a strong family history of knee arthritis who suffers a bad tackle and tears some cartilage and ligaments in their knee. With all of that they’re pretty much guaranteed a knee replacement.

In the example of the heart condition this could be an infection causing damage to the heart or perhaps side effects of medications for other conditions being treated.

The environment we live in for example air quality, exposure to day light and the food we eat all influence these things.


Improving your odds.


So you may not be able to do anything about the genes you were born with but your lifestyle and circumstances are within your control and that may even influence the way your genes behave.

There is endless amounts of information out there about taking control of your health so maybe it’s time to pay attention to the things that you can do to swing the balance in your favour.

Going back to our knee example. The person with the strong family history of knee replacements might think about cycling as an exercise rather than running and avoid kneeling too often, contact sports and maintain a healthy body weight and might just prevent the need for a knee replacement.

After all prevention is better than cure.


If you have any concerns about painful joints or muscles give us a call on 01223 350622.

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