Back pain is one of the most common medical problems. It can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that may shoot down the leg. A common cause of back pain is injury to a muscle or ligament. These strains and sprains can occur for many reasons, including improper lifting, poor posture, and lack of regular exercise. Being overweight may increase the risk of back strains and sprains.
What causes back pain?
- Insomnia. Sleep problems can also lead to back pain or make it worse.
- The way you walk. The posture you have when walking matters. Walking puts a tremendous amount of weight on the spine, which can affect the support structure of the rest of the body. If you experience back pain when you walk, your posture may be the underlying cause.
- Scarred nerves. Scar tissue grows after an injury or surgery around the nerves in your back. Scarring also can block the blood supply to the nerve. Both can set off back pain.
- Smoking. Smokers are almost three times more likely to get lower back pain. Tobacco slows blood flow to your tissues and bones, leading to a painful breakdown in the spine’s disks.
- Too-Tight Pants. Tight clothing leads to awkward moves in your lower spine and pelvis. It can also make you slump when you sit. This weakens the muscles that keep your spine in line.
- A Bulky Wallet. When you perch on a pocket bulging with cash, cards, and papers, muscles in your buttocks get strained. So do your sciatic nerves. This can trigger lower back pain. A slim, uncluttered wallet in your front pocket can solve the problem.
- Video Gaming. Gamers spend lots of time seated, with their heads tilted forward and their shoulders slumped. Poor posture and hours of sitting can lead to muscle strain and stiffness.
- Your Height. There’s a link between height and back problems. Tall men, especially those over 6 feet, could suffer more from back pain. Hormones, or how a taller body moves, could be to blame. So could posture problems that happen when you often stoop to get into a car or lean over to talk to shorter people.
Back pain can be managed by improving one’s physical condition; learning how to use the body might help prevent back pain.
How to prevent back pain?
- Exercise. Regular low-impact aerobics activities that don’t strain or jolt the back can increase strength and endurance in the back and allow the muscles to work better. Walking, bicycling, and swimming are good choices.
- Build muscle strength and flexibility. Abdominal and back muscle exercises, which strengthen the core, help condition these muscles to work together to support the back.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight strains back muscles and other parts of the body.
- Stand smart. Don’t slouch. Maintain a neutral pelvic position. When standing for long periods, place one foot on a low footstool to take some strain off the lower back. Alternate feet. Good posture can reduce the stress on back muscles.
- Sit smart. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. Placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of the back can maintain its standard curve. Keep knees and hips level. Change position frequently, at least every half-hour.
Back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care, usually within a few weeks. Contact your healthcare provider for back pain that lasts longer than a few weeks, is severe, doesn’t improve with rest, spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain goes below the knee, causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs, and that is paired with unexplained weight loss.