According to research, back pain affects around 31 million people in America, and this number can be multiplied when you consider people the world over. It is a leading cause of disability, a common reason for missed workdays, and is a problem that can be experienced by people of all ages.
Chances are, you may have experienced back pain yourself at some point in your lifetime.
But what causes the problem? And can you prevent it?
Well, there is no easy answer, as there are a number of factors that can cause back pain. It usually occurs when there is something off in the way the spinal joints and muscles fit together. Medical problems, age-related diseases, and human mishaps are often cited as the reasons why things can go awry within the spinal area. In some cases, physiotherapy or a change in behavior can alleviate any problems, while in more serious cases, a spine surgeon might need to perform surgery to correct any lingering issues.
Let's take a closer look at the reasons for back pain.
These can often be recognized by a doctor, so if your back pain is persistent, you should seek their advice as soon as possible.
Spine-related problems can include:
- Slipped (herniated) discs: If the soft tissue in the discs between your joints comes out, you will experience pain in your lower back because of the nerves being pressed.
- Degenerative disc disease: The discs between your spine's vertebrae can shrink and tear, especially as you get older. This causes your bones to rub together and can be the instigator of your pain.
- Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint: A sudden impact can cause injury and inflammation to your sacroiliac joints, and wear and tear caused by arthritis or pregnancy can also be factors. You will often feel pain in your lower back, buttocks, and even down your legs if you experience this problem.
- Spinal stenosis: If your doctor tells you that you have this condition, it means your spinal canal has narrowed. This adds pressure on your nerves and spine, and your legs and shoulders can feel numb. This condition is commonly experienced by people over the age of 60.
- Spondylolisthesis: This degenerative spinal condition causes one of the lower vertebrae to slip out of place, and is one of the more common causes of back pain today. It can develop as we age, but some people are genetically disposed to the condition, and some athletes can suffer from the problem. While spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are separate and slightly different conditions, they are related in some ways. The latter is more severe than the former and is caused by the incorrect movement or positioning of spinal vertebrae.
Most spine-related problems are treatable, so your doctor will be able to tell you more. Some of them happen over time, but they can also be instigated by external factors, such as the ones listed below. They can also be the result of long-term medical conditions, such as arthritis and osteoarthritis, but again, your doctor will be able to advise you on the medications, lifestyle changes, and surgery options that can alleviate the pain you might feel.
Sports injuries and car accidents are common causes of back pain, although there are other causes too, including accidents in the workplace.
Accidental injuries can result in:
- Spinal fractures: A fall or any other type of issue that results in an impact to the back can cause a spinal fracture.
- Spasms: These can occur when the muscles and tendons have been torn in the lower back. Spasms are often experienced by athletes in those sports that depend on muscle exertion.
- Sprains: These are caused by injuries to those muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the spine and joints. They can be the result of a sports or a car injury, and are a common cause of injury at work for those involved with heavy lifting.
Some of these injuries can result in the conditions listed earlier, so it's always worth seeking medical help if you think you have done something that could have resulted in damage.
Could you be responsible for the pain you feel in your back? You could be, especially if these are part of your lifestyle.
- Poor posture: Slouching can place a strain on your muscles and soft tissues, and can lead to tension in your lower and upper back, and other parts of your body. There are a number of other side effects to poor posture, including high blood pressure, the increased risk of heart disease, and intestinal pain.
- Smoking: You already know smoking is bad for your health, but did you know this habit can also result in back pain? Nicotine can restrict the blood flow to your muscles and ligaments, and this can lead to pain and discomfort.
- A lack of exercise: If you aren't physically active, the muscles in your back can weaken, and this will cause you to feel stiffness and pain. Regular exercise will fix this problem.
These are just some of the poor lifestyle choices that can instigate back pain, but not every lifestyle choice is a bad one. You might choose to play sports, for example, or work in jobs that require heavy lifting, both of which can result in injury and back pain.
Can Back Pain Be Prevented?
In some cases, no. Some age-related conditions can result in back pain, and when these are caused by genetics, it can be difficult to avoid the back pain associated with them. Those who play high-impact sports or who are involved in non-fault car accidents can also end up with injury and back pain. However, treatments are available, so while some causes of back pain can't easily be avoided, the pain can be alleviated.
Still, you do have some control in certain cases, so by adhering to the following, you will be able to avoid some circumstances of back pain.
When keeping fit, take part in those exercises that could prevent back pain. These can include abdominal crunches and stretching exercises.
Give up those bad habits that could result in back pain, such as smoking, slouching, and anything that could result in you becoming overweight (and putting pressure on your back), such as unhealthy eating and neglecting exercise.
If you need to do any heavy lifting, use the correct lifting techniques to prevent the risk of a sprain and injury.
Take care when in your car, or when involved in any other activity that could result in an injury to your back if an accident occurs.
See your doctor: Early intervention can work wonders, so if you start to experience pain, seek advice, as you may be able to prevent it from getting worse.
For more advice on this painful subject, continue your research online. Be sure to speak to a medical professional too, especially if you are currently feeling agony or sharp twinges anywhere within your back region.
Take care, and thanks for reading!