Back Pain: Causes and Prevention
Did you know that back pain back is one of the most common health issues that Americans of all ages face? Studies show that at least 8 out of 10 people will suffer from it, which means at least 31 million Americans are expected to experience back pain at some point in their life, so the odds are that you have experienced some form of back pain already.
What are the most common causes of back pain?
The most common factor among people who suffer from back pain is sitting too much. This is because a large portion of the back, neck, and various other muscles connected to the body’s distribution of force are all used when working or staying in unnatural positions for extended periods of time, such as sitting or slouching.
A more unknown cause can be linked to your emotional state. Emotional and mental health determines your ability to effectively address stress, which means that depression can have a huge effect on the overall physical health of your body.
Bulging or ruptured disks can be a major cause of back pain. This happens when the disks, the cushions between the bones in your spine, bulge or rupture and press on a nerve in the spine causing severe discomfort.
Arthritis and Osteoarthritis can also affect the lower back. In some extreme cases, having arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, resulting in a medical condition called spinal stenosis.
Scoliosis, a condition where an individual’s spine curves to the side, can cause discomfort and lifelong back pain.
Other causes for back pain can be attributed to a spinal injury, primarily if pain resides in the lower back. Sudden pain that lasts less than six weeks can be due to a fall or heavy lifting, while back pain that lasts more than three months is considered chronic and should be checked by your doctor. Weight gain can also place a constant strain on your back that often comes along with muscle spasms.
Pain management for any form of back pain can be approached in several ways, some more extreme than others.
Before reaching for pain meds or opting for surgery, there are a few less extreme options to consider:
1.) Shed excess weight. By using a BMI calculator, an individual can type in their information and discover if they are considered a healthy weight for their height.
2.) Wearing flat shoes with cushioned soles are vital for those of us who experience back pain. Having supportive footwear will reduce the stress on the spinal cord and require less effort from your spine when in motion.
3.) Focus on your posture. How you sit, stand, and lie down can have a significant effect on your back. For standing, try to keep your back straight and balance the weight of your body evenly with both feet and legs straight. For sitting, sit upright with support on the small of your back, keeping knees and hips level while your feet are flat on the floor.
4.) If you are continually working on a computer, be sure when using a keyboard to make sure your forearms are horizontal while keeping your elbows at right angles.
5.) Sleeping on a firm mattress is vital for supporting the weight of your shoulders and lower body, allowing your spine to stay straight. Support your head with a pillow while making sure your neck is not forced at an upward angle.
Too much sitting is bad for you. Learn how to stand up and stay active, even when you work in an office!