If you’re like most people, you’ve probably felt the sting of back pain at one time or another in your life. What some people may see as an occasional, minor annoyance is a major problem for others, often keeping them out of work for days or weeks at a time. If left untreated, back injuries can lead to serious, life-long disability later on down the road.
While you may already know that you should “lift with your legs” rather than bend over and lift with your back, there are a variety of other, less well-known ways to inflict serious back injuries that may seem unlikely and surprising. Most people assume that a desk job or any kind of work that doesn’t involve heavy lifting will keep them safe from debilitating back injuries, but what you don’t know can cost you in missed work and physical discomfort if you’re not careful.
According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain is one of the most commonly reported neurological ailments in America, second only to headaches. With millions of people potentially affected by this problem every year, a host of experts, government bodies, and advocacy groups are using the latest statistics and research to warn the public about the causes of back pain.
While some of these potential hazards may not be surprising, it’s worth keeping in mind that the best treatment for chronic back pain later on in life is preventing injuries from occurring in the first place. No matter what may be causing your symptoms, addressing them and seeking professional help early and as soon as possible may spare you from long-term problems in the future.
You may very well be living with structural abnormalities in your skeleton right now and not even be aware of it. Obviously there is no such thing as the “perfect body”, and everyone develops in unique and individual ways. However, according to the National Institute of of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS, some people are born with or develop irregularities that put special strains and pressures on muscles and bones in the back.
For someone who’s never known what it’s like to live with out them, these symptoms may be chalked up to being a part of normal, everyday life. While they may seem mild at first, such symptoms can lead to severe and chronic pain or disability later on in life if left untreated. Scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, and back flexion are all irregularities which you may want to consider discussing with your doctor.
Though you may have heard it before, many people are unaware that simply being overweight is a risk factor for back pain. According to WebMD, visceral adiposity or abdominal fat, otherwise known as a “beer belly” may lead to back pain by putting excessive pressure on your lower back and spine. Additionally, individuals who are overweight are typically out of shape, with weak muscles that can’t properly support proper back postures. It goes without saying that such individuals often spend more time on the couch, seated without getting up for long stretches of time. Sitting for excessively long periods of time is another risk factor for back pain.
Yes, you read that right. Believe it or not, smoking is a risk factor for back pain according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Because smoking can lead to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, that means it can also increase your potential risk for degenerative disc disorders and lower back pain that’s associated with atherosclerosis.
If you want to learn about preventing back pain or how you can identify and treat possible symptoms that you might have, here are some additional resources.