Back pain is a nearly ubiquitous experience. According to some estimates, 100 million Americans will deal with chronic back pain at some point in life. That’s about 1 in 4 people. And 4 out of 5 will experience some type of back pain. Here are seven reasons your back may be hurting and the drug-free ways to find relief, so you don’t have to rely on things like ibuprofen long-term.
#1 – Weight Gain
Every pound over a normal weight that a person weighs is an extra pound the spine has to hold upright all day long. That can lead to excess wear and tear over time. Abdominal weight is particularly rough on the spine because it changes a person’s center of gravity. You may find that losing a little weight provides some of the relief you have been searching for.
#2 – Sedentary Lifestyle
This is also connected to weight gain. However, it can be related to back pain in and of itself because joints that don’t move enough begin to stiffen up. You also want to strengthen core muscles since these are the muscles that support the spine and help it to stay straight. Without proper exercise, chronic back pain can set in. You may need to start with light exercises such as stretching if you haven’t worked out in a long time. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine.
#3 Poor Posture
If you had parents and teachers who always told you to stand up straight as a kid, they really were just looking out for your best interests. Slumped shoulders and a forward head position can increase the weight placed on the spine exponentially. Normally, wear and tear can take decades to erode the discs between the vertebrae, but a stressed spine position can speed the process up significantly and lead to the early onset of arthritis in the spine. The key to improving your posture is recognizing what you are doing wrong, so use mirrors to observe how you stand and sit, and make the needed adjustments. A posture corrector may also be of help.
#4 Sleep Position
Do you often find that your back and neck are the sorest when you wake up in the morning? This can be due to your sleep position (or the quality of your mattress and pillows). There are certain sleep positions that are more stressful for the spine. Even healthy sleep positions can be improved if you are suffering from back pain. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position because your spine ends up twisted all night with your head turned to the side. Side sleepers can protect your lower back by sleeping with a pillow between your knees. This keeps the top leg from slipping forward or backward during the night, which would twist the lower spine. Back sleepers can put a pillow behind your knees to relieve a little more pressure from the lower spine.
Nicotine reduces blood flow in the body. That can lead to faster degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. It also slows the body’s ability to heal, so the normal everyday wear and tear on the body is exacerbated. It can also be tougher to heal from trauma to the spine. Quitting the use of tobacco can, therefore, be a big help for those suffering from back pain.
Stress creates tension in the body, particularly in the neck and shoulders. It also releases stress hormones that have a powerful effect on the body. While not all stress is bad, and you can’t completely avoid all forms of stress, it is important to have positive coping mechanisms for stress. Here are a few suggestions:
- Talk to someone – Whether you have a trusted family member or friend to communicate with or you need to find a therapist to hear you talk out your problems, speaking your mind in a judgment-free environment can really help you to unburden yourself.
- Take a break – A vacation can be a nice reset. Can’t afford to be away for a week? Try a weekend or even a day trip to rejuvenate yourself. Also, be sure to take short 5 to 15-minute breaks throughout the day if you just need a quick reset.
- Find a hobby – Whether you start a garden, set aside time to read on a daily basis, or learn an instrument, a relaxing hobby can be a good distraction and help you to get away from the cares of the day.
#7 Upper Cervical Misalignment
When the atlas (top bone in the spine) is out of place, it throws the head off balance. This, in turn, causes the rest of the spine to shift and compensate so that the head remains straight. Unfortunately, that can lead to back pain, especially in places where the greatest shifts take place. It can even lead to conditions like sciatica if the lower spine shifts in a way that irritates the sciatic nerve.
In order to find long-term relief, the underlying issue has to be corrected. That means getting the atlas back into place. Upper cervical chiropractors use diagnostic imaging techniques to pinpoint atlas misalignments precisely. These are corrected using extremely gentle adjustments. It makes this subspecialty of chiropractic safe and effective for patients of all ages and health conditions.
If you are trying to get out from under the burden of back pain, contact an upper cervical practitioner in your area today. You may discover that this specialized form of care has been just the natural solution you have been looking for.