Back pain can feel impossible to deal with at times. You may fidget and change positions from sitting to standing to lying down and still not find a comfortable one. Your back pain may come and go only occasionally, or it can be a consistent nag that can really wear you down over time. At some point in their life, about 80% of the population will experience back pain, which means you are far from alone. Below you can read about 10 of the most common risk factors for developing back pain, and hopefully, you’ll find some helpful tips to reduce your risk.
10 Common Back Pain Risk Factors
Some evidence suggests that there is a genetic component for back pain sufferers. People with an immediate family member, such as a sibling or parent, who has disc-related low back pain may be up to four times as likely to have low back pain themselves.
Occupational risks contribute to many cases of back pain and injury. Job-related hazards can fall on both ends of the spectrum; jobs that require heavy lifting, twisting, repetitive bending, etc. as well as those that require extended periods of sitting pose their unique risks that can lead to the development of back pain.
Though getting older doesn’t mean that back pain is unavoidable, people over the age of 30 to 40 are indeed more likely to have back pain than their younger peers. 30 to 60-year-olds are more apt to develop disc-related back issues while people age 60 and older are subject to degenerative conditions like spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis.
The changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy can open the door for developing back pain. As the fetus develops, the spine becomes more strained because more weight is carried in the front of the body. This, combined with the loosening of ligaments in the pelvis to prepare for the birthing process, can lead to pain and discomfort.
Level of Fitness
A sedentary lifestyle, as well as overtraining, can be problematic when it comes to developing back pain. A lack of regular exercise will likely increase both the likelihood of having back pain and the severity of the pain. Sitting increases the pressure on the discs in the low back by up to 300% when compared to standing. When this dramatically increased compression is repetitive over time, it can lead to degeneration, pain, numbness, and weakness in the spine. On the other hand, overtraining can also be a source of back pain. Too many reps, too much weight, and improper form can leave your back vulnerable to injury.
Poor posture can increase your risk of developing back pain over time. Poor posture can mean many things – improper lifting, sitting on a wallet, slouching behind your desk at the computer, looking down at your smartphone, always sitting with one leg crossed over the other, and standing with more weight on one leg. Over time, bad posture can begin to cause wear and tear on the joints, discs, and ligaments of the spine and can cause muscle spasm and reduced range of motion.
Smokers are at an increased risk of experiencing back pain that has the potential can become chronic. Nicotine reduces healthy blood flow throughout the body, including the vertebrae, discs, and other spinal tissues. Reduced blood flow can contribute to inflammation, pain, and discomfort that worsens over time.
Carrying excess body weight can increase the amount of stress on the joints, muscles, and other tissues of the spine, which can lead to back pain. To compensate for the extra weight, the spine can be stressed unevenly, and the natural curvatures of the spine may be compromised, which can cause early degenerative changes.
Underlying Health Conditions
Many underlying health issues can present with back pain as a symptom. Spine-related conditions can include osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Other conditions that can cause back pain are kidney stones, abdominal issues, uterine or ovarian problems in women, and abdominal aneurysm, to name a few. There are many ways to investigate what the underlying cause of your back pain might be, including x-ray, MRI, and other diagnostic tests and evaluations.
For various reasons, including trauma and wear and tear, the vertebrae of the spine can shift out of their normal alignment. Misaligned vertebrae can cause uneven tension on joints, muscles, ligaments, and discs, and can ultimately lead to back pain. Your spinal column also houses your brainstem and spinal cord, which are essential for overall body function. Vertebral misalignments can cause irritation on those nerves and cause symptoms in conjunction with back pain such as sciatica and numbness or tingling down the arms or legs.
Looking to the Neck to Correct the Cause of Back Pain
An underlying cause of back pain that can easily go overlooked is a specific misalignment of the most freely movable vertebra in the spine, your atlas. The atlas sits at the junction between the neck and head, and when it shifts out of its normal position can start a chain reaction of problems through the spine. An atlas misalignment will cause the head to be carried off-tilt, so the rest of the spine is forced into a stressed position to compensate. Frequently, one shoulder will look higher than the other, and the hips will also become unlevel. It is not difficult to see how this can lead to pain in the mid-back or lower-back as a result.
Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on restoring normal atlas alignment so that your body can return to its proper posture and function. Once we make an atlas correction, the problems that arose because of it can begin to heal. This top-down approach allows for abnormal compensations to clear up naturally without the need for medications or invasive procedures. Upper cervical chiropractic care is gentle, precise, and very effective in helping people overcome stubborn back pain. To learn more, browse our website and schedule a consultation with a doctor in your area.