How to Lessen Your Risk of Back Pain

Back pain is the most common reason for lost work days, suffered by the vast majority of people during their lifetimes. What is most important to remember is that most of these episodes of pain, even when quite pronounced, are entirely benign from a general health perspective.  Less commonly, such pain results from unavoidable causes, such as congenital malformation (e.g. scoliosis), disease (e.g. cancer of the spine), or traumatic injury. Nonetheless, there are many steps the average person can take to lessen the risk of suffering the debilitating discomfort and emotional and financial consequences of back pain. As a matter of fact, it is all the more important to pay attention to the following cautions if you already have a risk factor, such as osteoporosis, scoliosis, or spinal stenosis. 

Of course, if you are in the grips of acute or chronic back pain, it is crucial that you consult with a well-trained expert in the field, like one of the excellent doctors at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine. We have the ability to diagnose the cause of your pain and to treat you effectively and compassionately. 

You may [1] never have had back pain, but have watched a loved one suffer [2] have sometimes experienced small twinges in your back that feel like warnings or [3] have had acute episodes of back pain in the past. If you fit into any of these categories, you should definitely pay attention to the following cautions.

Risk factors for Serious Back Pain

Remember that risk factors are only statistical probabilities. Many individuals at elevated risk of having an episode of back pain or developing a long-term problem, may never have to endure one. By the same token, anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens, even though they may appear to have no risks at all. 

As with all medical symptoms, there are many elements at play — including family history, possible congenital defect, lifestyle and simple luck. With this caveat in mind, below are some of the risk factors for developing back pain:

Age 

Back pain is more common beginning in middle age (45 to 65) and becomes more common as you get older.

Lack of exercise

Weak, unused muscles in the back and abdomen make developing back pain more likely.

Excess weight 

The more overweight you are, the more unnecessary pressure you’re putting on your lower back.

Moving improperly

Common causes of back pain are lifting without bending your legs, thus putting a strain on your spine or reaching or twisting awkwardly.

Having a poor psychological attitude 

Studies have shown that people who tend to be pessimistic have more back pain than those with a positive attitude. On the other hand, those with pain may be more likely to be unhappy and be less socially active. Still, treating anxiety and/or depression may help prevent or lessen ongoing back pain.

Smoking

Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine (as well as to other parts of the body) which may prevent your vertebral discs from receiving sufficient nutrients. It also slows the healing process if you do have a back injury.

Ways to lessen Your Risk of Developing Back Pain

In view of the above risk factors for back pain, we can create a meaningful list of proactive strategies to reduce them, such as: 

  • Losing excess pounds and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Learning proper ways to move to keep your back healthy (much information is available)
  • Engaging in low-impact aerobic exercise to build back and muscle strength (e.g. walking, yoga, swimming)
  • Working to strengthen your core muscles (e.g. abdominal, pelvic) to help support your back 
  • Quitting smoking — seek medical assistance or group support
  • Developing good posture — avoid slouching, shift feet if standing for long periods, keep your knees and hips level, lift with your legs, and avoid twisting
  • Making sure to change position regularly — at least once every half hour
  • Make sure you have a good seat  — with lumbar (lower back) support and armrests; if the chair itself doesn’t accommodate the natural curve of your back, put a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back 
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress — in general, unless your spine specialist suggests otherwise, get a mattress that feels comfortable for you personally
  • Seek outside help if you need it — whether you require assistance to lose weight, maintain a healthy, back-strengthening exercise routine, stop smoking, or lower your stress level, remember that such help will be well worth the time and cost if it saves you from a back injury that may result in physical pain and possible long-term incapacity.

Don’t Ignore Early Symptoms of Back Pain That May Signal Something Serious

No matter what your age or general physical condition, make certain that you don’t ignore sudden (acute) or lasting (chronic) back pain. If your back pain is not relieved by rest, ice, heat, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as Advil or Aleve, don’t wait. Consult with your local spine specialists to have your problem correctly diagnosed and treated. Procrastinating may result not only in worsening symptoms but in more serious future consequences. 

Contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine to find out precisely what you’re dealing with and to get the superior, customized treatment you require.