According to the National Institute of Health, 80% of people experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. Back pain is one of the top reasons why people miss work, and it’s the number one cause of job-related disability.
What causes back pain?
Your back contains different joints, bones, ligaments, nerves, and tendons, all of which can be affected by back pain. Here are some common causes of back pain:
- More and more people are living sedentary lifestyles. They sit at work or school and then come home and sit in front of computers, televisions, or mobile devices. This increases their risk for both acute and chronic back pain.
- Ligament strains and muscle or tendon strains are the leading cause of acute back pain.
- Wearing down of the discs in your back, or intervertebral discs, is one of the most common causes of chronic back pain. These discs can also rupture or move out of place.
- Many different types of work can lead to back pain: factory workers with repetitive motion, warehouse workers with heavy lifting, and drivers and office workers who sit for hours can all experience work-related back pain.
- Injuries, inflammation, pinching, or compression of the nerves in the spine can cause back pain.
- Infections and tumors may lead to pain in the back.
- Conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia may cause back pain.
- Spine curvature can also result in chronic back pain.
Most back pain occurs in the lower back, between the L1 and L5 vertebrae. Back pain can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, or it can be excruciating and debilitating. It can be sporadic or constant, and it can be dull or stabbing.
Acute or chronic?
Acute back pain is temporary back pain that may result from an injury or a specific incident: a quick movement, sleeping in an odd position, or lifting a heavy object. This is the most common type of back pain.
However, “acute” doesn’t mean “minor” or “unimportant.” This type of back pain can be quite serious. Don’t hesitate to contact your chiropractor or family doctor about back pain. If the pain is associated with numbness, tingling sensations, or fever, you should call your doctor and head for the emergency room.
Chronic back pain is defined as back pain that persists for more than three months. Lasting back pain can get progressively worse over time. If you experience back pain for more than 12 weeks, you should schedule an appointment with your chiropractor or doctor.
Back pain solutions
Some factors that contribute to back pain – such as age or medical conditions – are beyond your control. There are several things that you can do to help prevent back pain or relieve the symptoms of back pain:
- Practice good posture, both when sitting and standing.
- Stay active. A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for back pain and is bad for your overall health.
- Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the strain put on your back. A nutritious diet and plenty of physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight.
- Exercise to strengthen your back muscles. Stretching is important, too. Injuries and back pain are more common in people with low levels of physical fitness.
- Never lift with your back. Start lifting with your legs, regardless of your age and regardless of how much an object weighs. This helps you develop a good habit that can prevent back injuries as you get older.
- If you work at a desk – or sit for long periods of time – change positions, get up often, and move around whenever possible.
- Alternating heat and cold can help relieve symptoms of back pain.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. The intervertebral discs lose fluid and elasticity as we age. This cannot be prevented, but staying hydrated can help.
- Back pain responds to chiropractic care. Chiropractic doctors can treat acute back pain, chronic back pain, neck pain, and many other ailments.
- Physical therapy is a great option for both preventing and treating back pain. Physical therapists are knowledgeable experts who can help you develop a plan that meets your specific needs.
Don’t just bear the pain or take over-the-counter pain relievers before and after work each day. This can be dangerous, and it doesn’t address the problem. Talk to your doctor to see which back pain solutions are right for you.