As we age, we begin to feel different types of bodily discomforts, and the most common of them is back pains. Regardless of what you do, such type of pain can strike anytime, anywhere, but it is most common among people who are strapped to a chair behind their office desk for extended periods of time. Back pains can affect the lower back, upper back, middle back, or the lower back due to sciatica. Though there are different kinds of back pains, one thing is common—it is uncomfortable. And when left untreated, it can become debilitating.
Common causes of back pains
Back pains are common because there are different factors that can cause it. Read on to find out what they are.
1. Structural problems
One of the most common causes of back pains is structural problems of the body, which come in several forms.
- Bulging discs. These are discs that protrude but are not as bad as herniated discs. Fortunately, there are no symptoms of bulging discs, but you’ll know they’re there when they push on a nerve.
- Herniated discs. A herniated disc occurs when the soft tissue in the disc between your joints has come out. With this cause, you’ll feel the pain in your hip or lower back since the nerves there are being pressed.
- Sciatica. Sciatica can be quite uncomfortable and exhibits itself as a sharp and shooting pain in the buttocks that travels down the back of the leg. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated or bulging disc that presses on your nerve.
- Osteoporosis. This happens when your bones, including your spine’s vertebrae, become porous and brittle, leading to compression fractures.
- Abnormal curvature of the spine. Any abnormal curvature of the spine can cause pain. An example of this is scoliosis, where the spine curves towards the side.
2. Posture and movement
Your posture while sitting down or standing up may cause your back pain. It’s even more common among people who work behind a desk on their computer in a hunched position. Examples of movements that cause back pains include:
- Coughing and sneezing
- Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
- Pushing or carrying something
- Long-distance driving without breaks in between
- Sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t support your back
3. Accidents and injuries
Falls, car accidents, strains, muscle pains, and fractures are all common causes of back pains.
4. Sprains and strains
Back pains can also be caused by injuries to the tendons, muscles, and ligaments that support the spine. Sports injuries can trigger such pains as well as lifting something and twisting your body at the same time. Sudden movements can also cause back pains.
How to keep back pains at bay
Now, let’s talk about how we can avoid this type of pain that keeps you from doing great.
A common misconception is that people avoid exercising when they are experiencing any kind of back pain to avoid aggravating the situation. On the contrary, movement can help prevent back pains. In case you didn’t know already, muscles are designed for movement and help keep your joints fluid. In fact, it is also important to preventing weight gain, especially around the waist area, which can put a strain on your back.
2. Sleep on your side
If you think sleeping flat on your back is the best way to handle back pains, think again. To support your back when sleeping, you can sleep on your side. If you feel more comfortable laying flat on the bed, you can put a pillow under your lower back area or use a supportive mattress.
3. Maintain proper posture
We cannot stress this enough but good posture can do a lot of wonders for your back. When walking, maintain a posture with your shoulders back, stomach in, and breast out. If you work a 9-to-5 day job, you have to make sure that you switch between sitting down and standing up every hour or so and do some exercises while sitting. This is important for ensuring the circulation of blood in your body. If you need to go to another floor, take the stairs instead of the elevator for good exercise.
4. Reduce stress levels
You might not have thought about it before, but high stress levels can cause your muscles to tense up, leading to back pains. Try some stress-reducing activities like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, tai chi, and bio feedback. Also, make sure to take a break from work to relax.
5. Quit smoking
If you only thought that smoking can cause lung cancer, think again because it can also cause persistent back pain. According to studies, smoking can narrow your blood vessels, resulting in less oxygen and nutrients for the spine. When you quit smoking, you lessen the risk of injury.
As you can see, keeping back pains at bay can be done by simply changing your lifestyle.