Address Back Pain Before it Hinders Your Productivity

Do you feel like you’re always struggling with back pain? You’re not alone. Back pain is a very common health complaint, especially among the adult and older adult population. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), back pain is one of the most common health reasons why workers take an absence from work.

What are the Risk Factors for Back Pain?

  • Age. As you get older, natural wear and tear on the spine can make you more susceptible to back pain.

  • Smoking. Chemicals in tobacco decrease the blood flow to your spine and also increase your risk for osteoporosis. Smoker’s cough, a persistent cough experienced by long-term smokers, can also lead to back pain because hunching over while coughing actually increases the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid in your spine.

  • Certain sports and occupation. People whose jobs involve prolonged sitting, heavy lifting, or sudden twisting motions are at increased risk.

  • Poor posture. Regularly slouching over your desk or hunching while driving strains critical back muscles and stresses the spine.

  • Other underlying conditions. People who have arthritis and herniated disks are more prone to experiencing upper back pain.

  • Obesity. Carrying around extra weight can add stress and strain to your back.

  • Physical inactivity. If you don’t exercise regularly, your weak shoulder and back muscles will not be strong enough to properly support your spine.

  • Pregnancy. Hormonal changes and the added weight of the growing baby can all cause upper and lower back pain, which often resolves after giving birth.

  • Poor mattress choice. If your mattress doesn’t provide adequate support and unable to keep your spine straight, it can put you at risk for back pain.

What are the Common Causes of Back Pain?

Back pain can develop in an abrupt or a gradual manner. It commonly results from microtrauma to a back ligament or muscle. The underlying cause will be determined by your doctor after you undergo a series of diagnostic and imaging tests.

A non-specific back pain refers to that with no recognizable cause. On the other hand, a mechanical back pain originates from the structures surrounding the spine such as the bones and soft tissues. A mechanical back pain can be affected by physical activity and poor posture.

Other causes of back pain include:

  • Sprain and strain

  • Osteoporosis

  • Arthritis

  • Ruptured or slipped disk

  • Scoliosis or other skeletal irregularities

  • Sciatica

  • Spine or vertebral fracture

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Kidney infections

  • Tumor

Back pain may also develop due to a recent trauma or muscle spasms from lifting heavy weights.

How Can You Prevent Back Pain?

  • Observe proper posture. This means no slouching or hunching over whether you’re working in front of a computer or driving. If you need to stay at your desk all day long, choose an ergonomic office chair and get up frequently to stretch.

  • Wear low-heeled shoes to avoid straining your back.

  • Sleep on a medium-firm mattress.

  • Quit smoking, not just for your back but also to prevent other more serious health problems.

  • Observe proper body mechanics when lifting and carrying heavy objects.

  • Stay active to manage your weight.

  • Don’t forget to warm up before doing exercise.

  • Develop healthy eating habits.

How to Manage Back Pain at Home?

Most importantly, give your back a break. Rest but don’t overdo it since prolonged inactivity can only weaken your muscles and worsen the back pain. Depending on the affected area, wearing a back brace for the upper back or the lower back may also help with pain by improving your posture, aligning your spine, and supporting your back muscles.

Other home remedies including applying a topical aid, ice pack, or warm compress to your back to relieve the pain and relax tense muscles. You may also want to take over-the-counter pain medications to alleviate pain but be careful of the extensive use of NSAIDs or Tylenol because of risks to your liver and kidneys. Consult a health professional if back pain persists more than a few weeks, interferes with your daily activities, or is the result of an injury or accident.

Back pain can affect anyone at some point in their lives and it may not constitute a medical emergency that needs immediate intervention. However, it’s also possible that back pain is only a symptom of an underlying health condition. If it doesn’t resolve on its own or after applying home remedies, it’s best to seek medical help.

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