Do you wonder whether nagging back pain is an unavoidable part of your life? While many people accept back pain as an unpleasant reality, the truth is that there are many causes of back pain, some treatable or preventable. Read on to learn about five of the most common causes of back pain
, prevention, and treatment.
1. Overuse and Strains
Sometimes your lifestyles can outpace the strength of your back and its ligaments and tendons that support it. If you’ve ever paid for a weekend moving boxes or an extra round of golf with persistent lower back pain, you may have experienced an overuse injury. To prevent overuse injuries and muscle strains, strengthen and elongate your core muscles with exercise and stretching.If the core muscles are strong and flexible, they are more able to support your back through a range of motions. Proper lifting technique is another line of defense against overuse injuries and muscle strains. Remember to lift with your legs instead of your back!
2. Muscle Spasm
Back spasms are often caused by injuries to the various structures of the back. Sports, heavy lifting or jerky movements can lead to back spasms. Persistent or long-term back spasms can be caused by structural abnormalities, however. More serious causes of muscle spasms are ruptured disks pinching spinal nerves or arthritis. Even stress can cause muscle spasms. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to diagnose your back spasms and decide on appropriate back pain treatment
3. Ruptured Disks
A ruptured or herniated disk can apply pressure to spinal nerves and cause pain in the back. Disks act as cushions between spinal vertebrae to protect the spinal cord from damage. Sometimes long periods of inactivity, especially hours spent hunched over a computer, can cause a disk to rupture. When a disk ruptures, it slips our from between the vertebrae, pressing, pinching or damaging nerves. While pain in the back is the most obvious symptom of a ruptured disk, pain in the extremities, numbness, tingling and weakness can also indicate a ruptured disk. Stretching to lengthen the spine and choosing a supportive chair for your workstation can prevent ruptured disks.
Most women experience back pain at some point in their pregnancy, typically in the later months. The spine may have to support 30 or 40 pounds of extra weight, leading to strains. A woman’s center of gravity may shift, causing subtle changes in posture. Hormonal changes weaken connective tissue and compromise back support. Treatment during pregnancy may include light exercise, such as walking or swimming, hot or cold compresses, or acupuncture.
Osteoporosis typically doesn’t show symptoms until bone loss leads to a spinal compression fracture. This type of fracture can occur with normal activity and without symptoms. When many compression fractures accumulate in the spine, vertebra collapse and lead to kyphosis or a dowager hump. This change in posture can also cause a shift in your center of gravity, which exacerbates pain and instability in the long term.