What Causes Back Pain?

| May 21, 2015

If you have chronic back pain, you are not alone. Many people suffer from back pain, and it is a common complaint for people who visit their health provider. In fact, back pain, especially in the lower back, affects about eighty percent of Americans. Many everyday activities can lead to back pain, such as poor posture, standing for long periods of time, frequent bending, lifting heavy objects, and sitting for long periods of time without proper back support.

Back Pain

Back Pain

The Back

Back pain not only comes from movements of our bodies but also from the way the back itself is structured and works. The back is made up of thirty bones called vertebrae that are stacked in a column running down the length of our necks and torsos. The joints between the vertebrae enable us to twist, bend, rotate, and make other movements. Problems may develop with these joints and nerves between the vertebrae as we age or make repeated movements. Our backs are sensitive parts of the body, and if our backs do not work right, the rest of the body feels the affects.

Back Pain Causes

Back pain can be caused by several different things ranging from activities we participate in every day to more serious problems. First of all, there are several risk factors for back pain that you might not have considered before. These risk factors include a mentally stressful job, anxiety, depression a sedentary life style, and, of course, age. Older adults are more likely to experience back pain than those who are younger. Also, females are more at risk for back pain than males, and back pain is commonly experienced during pregnancy. Being overweight or obese is another risk factor for back pain as well as smoking. Participating in strenuous physical activity is a risk factor, especially when it is not done properly, as well as having a physically demanding job.

One of the most common causes of back pain is lifting something improperly or lifting an object that is too heavy. Lifting improperly means that a person leans over to pick something up by bending their back and trying to lift. The proper way to left is to keep the back straight, bend the legs to get the hands underneath the object, and then lift with the legs doing the majority of work. Lifting an object improperly can lead to back strain that includes strained muscles and ligaments in the back. Back pain can also be caused by muscle spasms or by awkward or sudden movements. Even a bad mattress on your bed can cause back pain if it does not support the body and keep the spine straight as you sleep.

Avoiding Back Pain

Other everyday causes of back pain include movements we do frequently like bending awkwardly, carrying a heavy object, and pushing or pulling something. Back pain is caused by standing or sitting for long periods of time. Sitting in a hunched position can cause pain in the back, so it is important to get a chair that has proper support for your back if you are required to sit for long periods of time. Sitting for long periods of time include driving for extended periods without a break. Other movements that can cause back pain include frequent bending, coughing, sneezing, and twisting. Muscle tension and over-stretching can also cause back pain. Many everyday activities we do have the potential to cause back pain.

If we are not careful, some of these activities can lead to more serious structural problems in the back. The vertebrae in the back are padded by discs, and if these discs are ruptured or bulging, they put more pressure on the nerves in our backs, leading to sometimes severe back pain. Bulging or herniated discs, discs that protrude into the nerves, can also cause sciatica, shooting pains that travel down the back of the leg. Other medical conditions that can lead to severe back pain include arthritis, osteoporosis, and a spine that is irregularly curved. Some serious medical conditions that can increase back pain are sleep disorders, certain infections, and cauda equina syndrome.

Preventing Back Pain

On the other hand, back pain can be prevented and steps can be taken to reduce back pain. The best prevention or lessening of back pain is exercise. Exercise helps build up your strength while keeping your body weight at a healthy level. The most beneficial exercises are those that strengthen your core and increase flexibility. Good posture is also a great way to reduce back pain. When standing or sitting, keep your back straight. When sitting, you will want a chair that keeps your back straight and enables you to place your feet flat on the floor. If you use a keyboard, your arms should bend at right angles. Also, if you are taking a long drive in the car, take plenty of breaks where you get out of the car and walk around.

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