Common Reasons for Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain and chronic back pain are increasing in prevalence among all genders, ages, and backgrounds. Up to 80% of Americans will experience some sort of lower back pain at some point this year. Many of them won't be able to work or live normally because of the pain.
For a type of pain so common, it makes sense that there are many reasons for lower back pain affecting Americans.
This guide goes over the most common reasons for lower back pain, help identifying the cause, and how to take steps towards relief.
There's a reason why grandma always said to sit up and stand up straight. Poor posture strains the muscles in the back and neck, which can lead to pain and discomfort.
Poor posture like slouching or hunching can also compress nerves and blood vessels, which will also lead to pain in both the upper and lower back
Sitting (Incorrectly) for Long Periods
Today, most jobs consist of sitting at a desk for practically the whole day. This, accompanied with uncomfortable chairs and poor positioning,are major causes of lower back pain.
If you believe this type of back pain is causing your back pain, wearing a brace, getting a new chair or trying a more ergonomic position could help.
Studies show that lower back pain is also linked to obesity. One explanation for this is because carrying extra weight puts strain on the spine, joints, and back muscles. This makes each of these body parts more prone to over-strain or back pain.
When a woman is pregnant, her body undergoes massive hormonal and physical changes. Hormonal shifts can lead to ligaments relaxing more than usual, which allows for the bones and areas around the pelvis to shift to accommodate a growing fetus.
This shifting strains the joints of the hips, which can cause lower back pain. This pain tends to get worse as the fetus grows since it will put more strain the body isn't used to on the pelvis and lower back area.
This also goes back to the obesity discussion: extra weight (like the 25-35 extra pounds a pregnant woman carries) will strain joints, muscles, and tendons in ways they're not used to. This leads to lower back pain.
Trauma can lead to back pain. Trauma refers to several conditions:
- Vertebral fracture
- Compression fracture
These things could be caused by a fall, lifting something incorrectly, sports, a car accident, or any other type of event that causes injury.
Between every vertebra in the spine are discs that act as cushions between the bones. They also absorb any impacts or shocks experienced in everyday life.
The discs have an inner soft portion and a hard outer shell that contains the jelly-like interior. Trauma, disease, or deformity in the lower back can cause the inner part of the disc to "slip" or "herniate" out of its proper position and jut out from the outer shell.
When this occurs in the lumbar vertebrae (the lower back), it will result in lower back pain.
Over 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis. This is a condition that affects the cartilage between joints.
Over time, the cartilage breaks down. That's why osteoarthritis is often called "degenerative joint disease" because the joints and cartilage degenerate over time.
When this occurs in the bones and joints of the back, it can lead to discomfort, immobility, and pain.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain
Once the cause of lower back pain gets identified, one can take steps to get some relief.
First off: fix posture. Focus on sitting up straight, walking "tall", and not slouching when sitting in a chair. Also, be sure to get a comfortable and supportive chair, especially when sitting for many hours during the day.
Some people find that taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medications provides some relief.
Experiencing chronic or extreme pain should prompt a trip to the doctor. They can prescribe stronger medications that might provide relief.
Not only will exercise help one lose excess weight that could be causing back pain, but it will also help strengthen the muscles in the back and core. Strengthening these muscles helps support the back, maintains proper posture, and should relieve some of the pain.
Wearing a back brace is another option for getting some back pain relief since it can provide support, help maintain a proper posture, and put the back in the correct position whether sitting or standing.
See a Doctor
When in doubt, talk to a doctor. Pain could be a result of one of the common reasons above, but it could also be a serious issue that needs to get addressed.
Besides that, doctors can write a treatment plan that will help the pain. It could include physical therapy, medication, back braces, or even surgical intervention.
Lower back pain is a widespread issue that can change how people live their lives. It can prevent people from being active, working, and living life to the fullest potential.
Any of these reasons for lower back pain could be the culprit. Identifying which one it is, or if it's something else altogether is important.
To avoid pain, check out this article on exercises that can help.