Common Causes of Back Pain

Poor Posture, Weight Gain, Heredity

Spinal Cord

Common Causes of Back Pain

Sometimes the pain comes abruptly in a sharp, stabbing burst that puts the body through something it was not meant to experience. Other times, it is a problem that has built up over time. For example, from over-activity and wear and tear put on the body. The pain increases little by little over time until it becomes a wincing pain that can no longer be ignored. This is the reality of back pain for many. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available. With expert advice and intervention from spinal surgeons in New Jersey, there is hope. Read on to learn more about common causes of back pain and how to address the problem. And if you want more information on how to reduce or treat back pain contact a top spinal surgeon near you.

Reduce Back Pain

Big picture

Back Pain

Researchers have found that back pain can be traced back to the limits of human biology. Humans, by their nature are mammals who stand and walk on two legs. Because of this, humans are more likely to carry weight from their shoulders and down through their backs. As a result, people’s backs can easily become “overloaded” in this vertical stance. Additionally, most of the energy and activities people participate in on a daily basis concentrates movements to the arms and upper body, with the back left responsible to support these activities. This reveals why so many people suffer with both upper and lower back pain today.

Most back pain occurs in the lower back or “lumbar” region. This is where the most physical pressure is often distributed. Studies reveal that every nine out of ten people will have problems with lower back pain. In another study, it was revealed that every five out of ten working adults report back pain as a reason for work-related absences. Indeed, back pain is the second leading cause of disability leave in the United States, and the fourth worldwide. Unfortunately for those who have experienced back pain, chances are very high they may experience it again. In some cases, it is inevitable.

Big picture

Causes of Back Pain

Back pain can manifest for a number of different reasons. The following are some of the top sources of this ailment:

· Minor injury

Most cases of back pain, particularly in the lower back, are caused by muscle strain or tissue damage. In some cases, the pain can slowly develop over time (i.e., such as someone wearing down their back with improper lifting). In others, back pain happens suddenly after a random, unforeseen event or accident (i.e., like a sports-related injury).

· A herniated or “slipped” spinal disc

This is also called a “pinched nerve” or “bulging disc”. In between the vertebrae of the spine are small, rubbery discs that absorb shock from physical activity. These discs help with spinal support and function. When these discs are knocked out of alignment and pinch against the vertebrae, they can result in a great deal of pain.

· Problems with spinal bones

The spine is important for supporting the back and the body as a whole. Problems with the spine’s bones, such as cartilage breakdown, spinal stenosis, or even spinal tumors, can affect the integrity of the spine and be very painful. While this is more common in adults over or around fifty years of age, it is still one of the most common causes of back pain that should not be ignored, no matter the age of the patient.

Big picture

Sources of Back Pain

The good news is that while back pain is common, many of the instigating factors that lead to it can be avoided, or at least postponed with proper knowledge. For instance, only five percent of all back pain cases require extensive medical treatment, and those rare conditions can be handled by a talented spinal surgeon in near you. Other common and sometimes preventable sources of back pain include the following:

Big picture

Improper Lifting

One of the causes of back pain people will hear about is lifting heavy items improperly. Most people are familiar with the precaution: “lift from the knees and not from the back.” However, improper lifting still remains a common problem for those who do not adhere to this warning. For instance, back injuries from improper lifting are still a common workplace problem. Careful and mindful lifting ensures that back injuries do not occur. Here are the steps that should be followed for safe heavy lifting:

· Keep the feet shoulder width apart, with the knees bent and the back straight.

· Lift with the legs, and keep the object close to the body.

· If the object appears too heavy to lift, do not hesitate to ask a friend for help.

Big picture

Lack of Exercise and Stretching

A lack of proper exercise is one of the single most common causes of back pain. For example, as the workplace grows more and more digital, many people spend their day sitting in front of a computer. Unfortunately, they do not give their bodies the proper care that’s needed. The human body was built for movement and such lifestyles lead to poor health. Standing up, walking and keeping the body moving on a regular basis is essential for back ligament, tissue, and spinal disc health. Getting regular exercise is key to avoiding back pain and the strained muscles that often cause it.

Back pain can be also caused by a simple lack of stretching before performing strenuous activities such as exercise. Stretching prepares the body for activity and it makes the back less likely to give out under extreme pressure. Professional athletes, who participate in physical activity for a living, understand the consequences of failing to stretch, and treat their bodies carefully. Non-athletes should also do the same when levels of activity are expected to significantly increase. Back injuries occur and are common mishaps for those who participate in exercise or sports activities without properly stretching beforehand.

Big picture

Poor Posture

Sitting or standing with a slouch for long periods of time puts a great deal of pressure on the upper body, resulting in back pain. If the poor posture becomes a long-term problem, the joints come under pressure and the spine will fall out of alignment. With this stress and weight redistributed in the back, the back, the joints degrade, resulting in pain and increasing the risk of a slipped disc or other related problem. To maintain proper posture while standing, keep weight evenly distributed across the feet, to provide support and properly hold the body upright. For proper posture while sitting, sit up straight as if there was a vertical line running from the top of the head, down the back and to the hips.

Big picture

Improper Footwear & Posture

Additionally, the proper footwear can do wonders for good posture. Many shoes are designed for fashion instead of practicality. If worn too often, such shoes can leave feet unprepared to support the back’s weight. Running or walking shoes provide a great deal of support to the feet, and in turn help to support the back, for everyday activities.

Big picture

Hereditary Traits and Deformities

Sometimes genetics can contribute to back pain. Certain back problems can be inherited from family members such as ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis affecting the spine. This is an unavoidable and hereditary disorder that leads to back pain. Back problems can also stem from malformations such as a curvature in the spine. These deformities can throw the body off balance and redistribute stress and weight in painful ways that negatively impact the back. Such deformities can restrict movement which may in turn lead to pain throughout the upper or lower back areas.

Big picture

Smoking and Back Pain

Many people do not consider smoking to be a source of back pain but it can indirectly contribute to the ailment. Cigarettes and their negative health implications on the human body are well known. However, what is far less well known is that smoking can affect back pain as well. Smoking affects the flow of nutrients throughout the body, making it less likely for the back to receive the care it needs. This is very important for those who have recently experienced an accident to their back or have had other trauma to the back. Smokers have a much slower ability to heal when compared to the average person, so any back pain that exists is more likely to linger within a smoker’s body.

Big picture

Obesity and Back Pain

Obesity within the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Obesity can result in many health problems including back pain which is more prevalent in those who have higher body mass index (BMI) counts. Excess body weight puts a great deal of pressure on the body, and makes it difficult for the spine to support the body’s total weight. Obesity can be avoided through a healthy diet and regular exercise, effectively reducing the likelihood of weight-related back pain.

Big picture

Pregnancy and Back Pain

Back pain is also common for pregnant women. Back pain typically emerges during the second stage of pregnancy, and is the result of several changes happening throughout the body. The quick weight gain as the baby and uterus grow puts additional pressures on the spine. Women’s posture will change as their center of gravity shifts, resulting in back pain. For instance, the rectal abdominus muscles may separate as the uterus expands, causing pain. The body will also release a hormone called relaxin to loosen muscles for the birthing process. Sometimes relaxin loosens ligaments around the spine which heightens back pain.

Big picture

Age and Back Pain

Age is an unavoidable cause of back pain. As a person gets older, their body gradually becomes less able to take care for itself. When a person is young, their body receives plenty of blood and essential nutrients that flow freely throughout the body. However, as people grow older, this flow of resources slows down due to the aging process. Even without the aging process, blood flow to the spinal discs is minimal at best before almost entirely stopping at thirty years of age. If an old spinal disc is injured, it is nearly impossible to fix it without surgery. An aging back also becomes more vulnerable to certain conditions, like osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis with time.

Big picture

Understanding Back Pain

It is important to note that severe back pain does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem with the back. The body is a complicated work of biology and sometimes back pain can signal other conditions that are present within the body or simply that the body is healing itself. While the acute, raw pain of a recent and direct back injury certainly hurts, it is also a sign that the body is working normally, signaling the exact place that healing is occurring. Pain is typically a good indicator of how badly someone has been hurt, but it will usually fade within a few days.

On the other hand, back pain can also be a sign of a serious condition if the pain comes in conjunction with other symptoms or lasts for an exceptionally long period of time. If the pain comes alongside, for example, bowel control problems, it can signal cause for concern. While about eighty to ninety percent of all back pain cases resolve themselves after six weeks those who experience pain for longer than a week should visit a doctor if pain persists. For those who are experiencing an emergency situation or if there is a suspected problem that is more severe, immediately see a spinal surgeon near you for proper treatment.

Big picture

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, back pain is a common problem for many people. The bones, muscles and ligaments holding the back together are surprisingly fragile, making the back one of the most vulnerable points on the human body. While back pain can be a serious burden that impedes healthy living, in most cases it is not that serious and can remedy itself. Many cases of back pain go as quickly as they came with proper care and rest. Back pain is a common ailment; there many ways to prevent or delay it. It is possible to live a full, happy life despite the presence of back pain. Keep in mind that more serious back problems typically stem from chronic or severe back pain. For those who suffer from chronic or severe pain and are worried about permanent damage to the back or spine, contact a spinal surgeon in NJ who can provide medical advice, proper treatment and care.