4 Common Causes of Back Pain & How You Can Reduce Discomfort
A condition affecting 31 million people in the United States, chronic back pain is one of the most aggravating long-term conditions, as it typically affects sufferers every single day. In fact, studies have proven lower back pain to be the leading cause of disability worldwide. The following is an overview of the common causes of back pain and back pain treatment methods.
Back Pain Causes
While there can be many causes of back pain, these are the most common:
- Spinal Arthritis: This is an ailment that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. Given that the back is not immune to these symptoms, those who suffer from arthritis often have chronic back problems as well. While the exact cause of spinal arthritis is unknown, research shows may factors contribute to both its presence and severity, including age, gender, genetic predisposition, trauma, obesity, inflammation, and loss of cartilage in joints.
- Sciatica: This is a disorder marked by shooting pain traveling through the glutes (your backside) and down one leg (rarely does it affect both legs). The sciatica pain is the result of a damaged spinal disc pressing down on a nerve where there can also be pain.
- Herniated Discs: Each of the discs in your spine serves a purpose and needs to be fully functional in order for your back to properly function. However, if a disc is bulging out from the others (also referred to as a bulging disc or slipped disc), this can cause significant pain over time. Herniated discs can occur not only in the lower back but also the neck, and in rare cases, the upper back.
- Muscle Strain: When a muscle is stretched too far, causing a tear, this can affect the ligaments which connect the bones together. Muscle strains can happen from having poor posture, lifting heavy objects, or putting too much physical stress on the lower back too suddenly.
What Might Be Causing Your Back Pain?
Although anyone can develop back pain, the following are some of the most common causes include:
- Improper Lifting Techniques: Lifting heavy objects improperly can cause considerable wear and tear on the back, which could lead to chronic back pain. Read more about things you can do to lift heavy items property.
- Age: Due to the many years of wear and tear due to everyday activity, many people begin to experience back problems around their 30s and 40s.
- Psychological Conditions: Depression and anxiety have recently been found to be a potential cause of back pain problems. If you feel that you have one of these conditions talk with your doctor about treatment.
- Lack of Exercise: The lack of physical activity leads to the slow deterioration of the bones and tendons. The American Heart Association recommends engaging in physical activity (anything that makes you move your body and burn calories) for thirty minutes a day, five days a week. Here are some ideas for exercises that strengthen your core, including your back.
- Smoking: Smoking has been proven to contribute to back pain and can slow down the natural repair of injuries. Read more about smoking and its link to back pain.
- Weight: This can cause strain on muscles, resulting in back pain. Learn more about how weight can be a factor in back pain here.
- Past Trauma: If you have been in a car accident or had a traumatic injury in the past, your back may begin to hurt over time as a result. You may not be able to completely avoid this, but you can keep your body strong with exercise and weight management to help reduce the likelihood of back pain developing.
Remedies for Back Pain
To prevent back pain, talk with your doctor about possible reasons your pain is occurring, and they can help give you the best suggestions for relief. Some can include:
- Rest: According to Spine-Health, approximately two-thirds of those with chronic back pain also suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Here are some factors that can affect your quality of sleep that you might not have realized.
- Cold or Heat Therapy: Try different methods of cold or heat therapy to see which can work for you to relieve pain. Cold therapy (like applying an ice pack to the area) reduces inflammation and can help act as a local anesthesia to numb the area and minimize nerve spasms. Heat therapies include using a heating pad or taking a hot bath or shower to stimulate healthy blood flow to the area and help reduce pain.
- Stretching: Doing yoga is one of the best ways to relieve back pain, as it helps to stretch the back and strengthen the muscles.
- Exercise: There are certain exercises and stretches that can help strengthen your back to relieve or avoid pain. Learn more about exercises for back pain in our blog.
- Good posture: Improving your posture can help to relieve back pain. Read more about healthy posture.
- Over-the-counter medication: Taking over the counter medication like Advil or Aleve occasionally can help you manage back pain.
- Visit your doctor. Make an appointment with Dr. Fayaz if your back pain continues to be a problem. Dr. Fayaz will assess your condition and work to find a relief method that’s right for you.
Since back pain can have many causes, it is important to be proactive. Rather than waiting until an issue develops, make lifestyle changes to prevent the issue from starting altogether. Exercise regularly, improve your posture by standing and sitting correctly, and learn how to properly lift heavy objects without hurting your back. If you suffer from chronic back pain, schedule an appointment with a spine specialist or a back pain specialist today, as they can help you choose a back pain treatment plan that is right for you.