The Most Common Causes of Low Back Pain
Did you know that 80% of people will experience back pain this year?
For most people, back pain starts out innocent enough. A little tweak after working out too hard or lifting a heavy box, or maybe after a night of restless sleep. But sometimes, these small pains can build up and, before you know it, you have back pain all the time.
5 Common Causes of Back Pain
If you’re experiencing some level of back pain, you might be wondering what caused it. It can be different for each person, but the most common causes of back pain can include:
Obesity. Extra weight forces the lumbar spine out of alignment and makes it easier for discs to slip or rupture. If you are overweight and experiencing chronic back pain, the cause could be weight-related. Obesity can also increase risk of spinal dysfunction, like scoliosis, bulging discs, etc.
Muscle strain. Unlike chronic (recurring) back pain, a muscle strain or sprain is a common cause of acute (abrupt onset) pain. The best way to prevent this is to bend at the knees when lifting heavy objects and to pay attention to your body when playing contact sports. Luckily, this kind of pain is often resolved in a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
Degenerative disc disease. Unfortunately, people over 60 are susceptible to a weakened spine and spinal discs, a condition called degenerative disc disease (DDD). While there are ways to help alleviate and slow down its progression, DDD is often just a byproduct of aging.
Stress. You know that stress causes a whole bunch of problems, but most people don’t realize that stress can have a direct effect on the spine. When we get stressed, our muscles bunch up and we tend to take shallow breaths. This muscle tension pulls on our spine, tightens our back, and results in pain. Without addressing stress or getting frequent massages, this tension and pain can last indefinitely.
Sedentary lifestyle. Much like stress causes muscle tension, constantly sitting is a major cause of back pain. When we don’t stretch our muscles, they tighten and stiffen, causing them to pull on our spine in painful ways. The less we move, the tighter our muscles get and the more pain we experience. Simply getting up from your desk every hour or taking time to stretch can go a long way in preventing this kind of back pain.
How Do You Know What’s Causing Your Back Pain?
While these are five of the most common types of back pain, they are by no means a comprehensive list. To understand what is causing your back pain, you should:
- Take your current level of health into consideration
Are you overweight?
Do you exercise regularly?
Do you have a stressful desk job?
Are you sleeping well?
Consider any recent falls, sports games, or trauma
Look at family history
Does anyone in your family have a spinal condition like scoliosis or DDD?
Consider your age
Nobody is exactly alike, so the causes of your back pain may differ. It’s important to be aware of your body and to keep track of your activity level. This will help you when you start noticing changing in your levels of discomfort.
Getting Help for Your Back Pain
Back pain isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. When you notice back pain, whether it’s acute (from an injury) or chronic (low-level, frequent) pain, don’t let it go untreated. Call your orthopedic doctor and make an appointment to make sure that there isn’t something more serious going on.
Once you know what’s causing your back pain, you can start treating it the right way.
Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | Adapted from How not to Die by Michael Greger | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119