Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments you can experience, and the likelihood of experiencing it at any point in your life is up to 80%. Though back pain can affect any region of the spine, in most cases the lower back is the area that tends to hurt the most. To complicate matters further, this type of back pain is usually considered nonspecific, which means no actual cause has been identified and it’s not known what originally led to the pain.
Low back pain is most prevalent in people between the ages of 30-60, which is mainly a result of the aging process. In addition, there are some habits such as sitting for too long or not getting enough exercise that can also increase the chances of developing low back pain. Though some cases of low back pain may come and go, up to 10% of people eventually develop what’s called chronic low back pain, which means it lasts for more than three months and is therefore a more serious concern.
For those familiar with it, low back pain can be a bothersome problem that can seriously interfere with your ability to perform normal daily tasks. Though the statistics suggest that many of us will experience low back pain at some point, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done to reduce our chances. While certain factors like genetics are out of our control, other common causes can be modified by your actions and habits, and in effect you can lower your risk for developing low back pain.
The top 10 preventable causes of back pain and what you can do to address them
- 1) Being overweight: more weight will directly lead to more back problems, while slimming down will reduce pressure on the spine; work to maintain a healthy weight with a well-balanced diet and regular exercise
- 2) Sedentary lifestyle: though related to #1, some people may not be overweight but still spend most of their days sitting, which is dangerous; take frequent breaks from sitting and move as much as possible every day
- 3) Poor posture: adding insult to injury, excessive sitting and bad posture will exacerbate back pain even more; strive to practice good posture at all times, especially while sitting, and avoid arching the back and bending the neck for long periods
- 4) Having a weak core: a strong core—not just abs, but side, pelvic and buttock muscles—will strengthen and support the back; work on these
- 5) Stress/depression: emotional issues can always exacerbate physical ones; exercise and find other stress-reducing techniques that work for you
- 6) Smoking: smokers have been found to be twice as likely as non-smokers to develop low back pain; on top of a plethora of other reasons, it’s best to quit
- 7) Heavy bags: purses, backpacks, even wallets can change the curve of the spine and cause low back pain; reduce the load of any bag you carry, use two straps, and when possible, use chest and lumbar support straps, too
- 8) Unsupportive bra: too much weight in the front can cause bad posture and low back pain; use one with the right support to keep weight close to the body
- 9) Bad/old mattress: a mattress without uniform support or that sinks too much is also dangerous; replace old ones with at least a medium support mattress
- 10) Improper footwear: shoes that are too worn and/or don’t provide good arch support can also cause back problems; be smart about your footwear
Just because low back pain is so prevalent doesn’t mean you’re powerless to defend yourself against it. If you find many of these common causes of back pain to be present in your life, it’s time that you take control and make changes to reduce your chances of developing it. If you’re already experiencing low back pain or any other pain, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Kings Mountain and Shelby, NC can address the problem and get you pain-free once again. Contact us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.