The top 8 causes of lower back pain and how to avoid them

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The top 8 causes of lower back pain and how to avoid them

If the idea of lower back pain is already causing as much anxiety and sleepless nights as the pain itself, it’s time to take action. If the pain goes low, we go high! We go high by learning all about it and finding solutions around it. 

In this article, we will list the top eight reasons for lower back pain and some remedies on how to best get rid of it. 

First, know thy enemy. Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease. If left unattended or dealt with improper treatment, a number of these disabilities may become permanent. According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is one of the common reasons for missed work days. Back pain is the second most common reason for visiting a doctor’s office, following closely to upper-respiratory issues.  

Most lower back pain is non-organic

Anyone who’s seen the anatomy of the human back will know that it is a complex structure of bones, ligaments, joints and muscles. Accidents and injuries sustained from sports or work is the most common cause of lower back pain. Another reason is poor posture. These causes are non-organic.

Why is the lower back a target area for pain?

Gunnar Andersson, M.D., Ph.D, a former president of the Orthopaedic Research Society, explains that the lower back is subject to a lot of mechanical stress and strain. The weight of the upper body puts loads of pressure on the lower back. 

Lower back pain symptoms

Symptoms of lower back pain range from a dull pain to a stabbing sensation which will make it difficult to move or stand straight. When your lower back pain comes suddenly after an injury from physical activity, this is acute back pain. Chronic lower back pain is one that lasts for more than three months. 

If you have been injured or have fallen, you should be seen by a physician. If your lower back pain is accompanied by loss of bladder (and bowel) control, numbness in the legs and groin area, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Here are the top reasons for lower back pain.

1. Lower back strain

Our spinal column is held in place by a series of muscles and ligaments. These muscles can be strained by simple actions – if we stretch too far or stretch in the wrong angle, the muscle tissue will develop little tears in them. This will then weaken the muscles, resulting in them not being able to hold the spinal column effectively. 

This leaves the spine in a less stable position, causing lower back pain. 

Samples of movements that can cause lower back strain include a physical fall, bending or crouching in the wrong angle (or repeatedly), lifting heavy objects wrongly and extreme physical exertion.

2. Arthritis

Lumbar arthritis is pain in the lower back or lumbar region. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of lumbar arthritis. This is the result of degenerative changes and inflammation in the lower joints of the spine. 

Lumbar arthritis causes one to feel chronic pain and lasting soreness in the lower spine. 

3. Physical activity and inactivity

What you do for a living can also affect whether you are likely to suffer from lower back pain. If you spend most working days lifting heavy objects, being on your feet, pulling or lifting, this may likely result in back pain. At the same time, if you spend hours sitting and being physically sedentary the whole day, you will also likely develop lower back pain. This is true especially if your work chair is non-ergonomic and you are slouched or hunched over as you work. 

4. Herniated disc

Disc material naturally degenerates as we age as the ligaments that hold it in place also weaken over time. However, excessive strain or injury may result in a herniated disc. For instance, using your back muscles instead of your leg and thigh muscles to lift heavy objects may cause a disc to rupture. 

A herniated disc is a fragment out of the disc nucleus that is pushed out. It can occur in any part of the spine but it is common in the lumbar (lower) spine and cervical (neck) spine.

5. Bad posture

Most of us have never taken proper posture seriously until we are in pain. When you are not slouching, you are doing your back a big favour because your back is happiest supporting your body weight. Always be conscious about your posture not just when standing, but sitting down, too. 

6. Your everyday routine

This is often overlooked, but the way you carry your bag, purse, backpack or any bag you regularly take can greatly contribute to lower back pain. Heavy shoulder bags are a frequent culprit for back pain. Backpacks are ideal when worn correctly, as the bag’s weight equally rests on both shoulders. Be conscious of what you tote daily, as this is what you carry regularly.

7. Sciatica

Sciatica is a common type of pain which affects the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that extends from your lower back down the back of each leg.  It is nerve pain from an injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, which originates in the buttock area. The sciatic is the longest and thickest nerve in the body.

About 40 percent of people in the United States experience sciatica in their lifetime.

8. Being overweight

Being overweight not just hurts major joints like the knees but the back as well. Those extra pounds will put a lot of stress on the back. For those who are out of shape and not used to moving around, back pain is quite common.

How to prevent lower back pain

There is a misconception that lower back pain often requires surgery. Many people who suffer from lower back pain postpone treatment, thinking that they will need to undergo surgery. Surgery is often the last option to treat back pain in many cases. 

Non-surgical pain management and prevention of lower back pain is quite simple and will make a world of difference:

  • Keeping a healthy weight and diet
  • Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle
  • Maintaining proper posture
  • Doing proper warm-up and stretches before exercising
  • Knowing the proper way to lift: lift with your knees, and keep the object close to your body
  • Quitting smoking.  Smoking restricts blood flow, which deprives the spinal tissues of oxygen and nutrients
  • Wearing comfortable and proper footwear
  • Having proper mattresses and chairs
  • Remaining active
  • Chiropractic care

Are you suffering from back pain? How have you tried to manage or rid yourself of the pain? Get in touch with us regarding your back pain experience. 

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