Almost 65 million Americans experience back pain and tell their doctors. About 16 million experience chronic back pain. The healthcare costs tied to this pain are over $12 billion per year.
What are the leading reasons for back pain? Five of the most common triggers for back pain are addressed by making lifestyle changes. Others aren’t as easy to avoid. No matter what’s causing your back pain, these tips help you better understand the common triggers and what you can do to ease the pain you feel.
Explore the Different Causes of Back Pain
So many health and lifestyle factors can trigger back pain. We’ll break them down into the most common issues.
Some of the most common causes of back pain are tied to the way you live, work, sleep, and sit. Lifestyle factors can be the easiest back pain causes to correct.
If you’re overweight, those extra pounds put more strain on your body, including your back and spine. Losing weight can help ease the pain you’re experiencing. It’s also easier said than done. Working with a professional to help you lose weight and keep it off is essential.
Poor Mattress Support
Experts recommend your mattress every seven years, though some materials can withstand a full decade of use before their supportive nature deteriorates. If you’re sleeping on a 20-year-old mattress, you’re long overdue for a new one. Most experts recommend shopping for a medium-firm mattress if you suffer from chronic lower back pain.
Poor Posture at Work or School
When you’re sitting, are you slouched or hunched over? It’s common for people who work at a desk, over lab equipment, or at a computer to lean forward while they work. Students also tend to sit with a curled spine leaning over their keyboard or desk. That will lead to back pain. Sitting straight up with proper lumbar support and a straight neck helps ease back and neck pain.
How often do you work out? If you’re not stretching and toning up the back muscles, the spine loses some support, which leads to back pain. Talk to a back pain specialist about exercise programs that help you build strength and stamina in a controlled, effective manner.
Chronic stress impacts the body in far more ways than you might imagine. Many people tense their muscles when they’re stressed, and they might not realize they’re doing it. Neck pain, headaches, and back pain can all be tied to tension from stress. Learning stress management techniques will help.
Abnormalities That Cause Back Pain
Structural abnormalities of the spine are another reason for chronic back pain. Around 3% of Americans have scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. It’s more common in females than males, and it’s usually diagnosed during puberty, which tends to occur between the ages of 10 to 15. Surgical correction or a back brace are two treatments, but it’s important to talk to a back pain specialist, too.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition where at least one vertebra slips to cover another, which compresses the nerve and causes lower back pain. It can also cause pain and numbness in the leg. It’s common in people over the age of 50 and affects an average of 5% of Americans. The primary treatment option is rest and pain management.
Two other spinal deformities are kyphosis and lordosis. Kyphosis occurs when the upper back curves forward and creates a hump. Lordosis is the opposite and the lower back curves inward creating a swayback. With both, back pain is a complaint.
Back Pain Tied to Other Medical Conditions
Sometimes, other medical issues can be tied to back pain. A kidney infection is one of them, and it’s not something to ignore. An untreated UTI can reach the kidney and cause a backache. Make sure you see a doctor if the pain appears suddenly and you’ve had a UTI or you notice problems with your usual urination habits.
Kidney stones are another cause of back pain. The pain will be severe and radiate from your lower back to your abdomen.
For women, uterine tissue may start to grow outside of the uterus in a condition known as endometriosis. It’s known to cause pelvic pain, but it can lead to back pain if the tissue grows near the back and pinches the nerves. In addition to back pain, it can cause infertility, fatigue, and abnormal menstrual flow.
Musculoskeletal Problems That Cause Back Pain
With daily movements, the bones of the spine move around a lot. For most, it doesn’t become an issue. For some older adults, arthritis of the spine occurs and causes a lot of pain and stiffness. The higher the level of pain in adults, the more likely they are to avoid movements, which is counterproductive. Treatments that help ease arthritis pain are important.
When you lift something incorrectly, carry something heavy, or overexert, you can strain or sprain the muscles supporting the back and spine. This is a temporary form of pain, but it’s difficult to keep mobile when the back hurts that much.
Finally, problems like bulging discs, degeneration, or herniation will cause back pain because nerves compress. Easing the pain, inflammation, and swelling are important treatment options. If you’re diagnosed, over-the-counter pain medications are one of the first treatment options, but there are other options available that help ease pain and improve mobility.
Our Best Tips for Easing Back Pain
Pay attention to the pain you’re experiencing. If it’s severe, causes numbness or weakness, leads to incontinence, or radiates from the back to the abdomen, seek immediate medical care. Even if it turns out to be less severe than it seemed, it’s better to see a doctor for peace of mind.
Track the pain you experience. Does it happen at certain times of the day or is it constant? Is it specific to certain activities you’ve performed? Is the pain worse when you get out of bed or after sitting at your work computer all day? A doctor can more easily determine if the pain is linked to specific activities or another external factor, such as an unsupportive mattress, when you provide detailed information.
Don’t be afraid of non-invasive pain management techniques. Hot and cold therapy may work better for you than pain medication. Massage and water massage are excellent options for pain management. Working with a physical therapist to strengthen the back muscles and learn proper posture is also helpful.
What’s our best tip for easing back pain? Realize that you don’t have to live with it. Even when you have a chronic health condition, there are pain management techniques that help alleviate pain and make your daily life a little easier to manage.
The Fresno orthopedic specialists at Premium Sports & Orthopedics specialize in back pain treatment. Don’t let back pain keep you from your routine. Our back-relieving treatment options ease the pain and get you back on your feet or sleeping through the night again. Arrange a consultation with our pain management specialists today.