Back pain, as its name suggests, is a condition that is mainly characterised by the presence of pain in the back area. It’s a common condition that 80 per cent of the adult population experiences at some point in their lives. The pain caused by this issue can range anywhere from a dull muscle ache to a burning, stabbing, or shooting sensation. Back pain is also one of the top contributors to rising healthcare costs and loss of productivity, as it causes many people to be absent from work or file for disability.
Knowing more about back pain and its effects involves taking a deeper look into the most common causes of the condition. Generally, the causes of back pain can be grouped into three categories: injury, activity, and medical conditions.
Injury-Related Causes of Back Pain
Slipping, falling, car accidents, and other similar incidents that involve sudden movements and strong impacts can result in back pain. At the same time, it’s also possible to get back injuries due to overstraining, stretching, or twisting. These can lead to back injuries such as:
Sprains and Strains
A sprain refers to a stretched or torn ligament, which is what connects bones together through a joint. It can be caused by sudden movements and impacts, and some of the most common areas that sustain this type of injury are the wrists and ankles. A strain, on the other hand, refers to a stretched muscle or tendon, which is what connects muscle to bone. Injuries of this type can occur all of a sudden or over an extended period.
A herniated disk is also one of the most common causes of neck, back, and leg pain. It happens when the soft cushion between the bones of the spine slips out in part or in full. Sometimes asymptomatic, a slipped or bulging disc can cause pain, weakness, and numbing if it compresses against a nerve. This type of injury can happen suddenly during a fall or a car accident, for example, but it can also take place due to medical conditions that affect the integrity of the spine.
Fractured or Broken Vertebrae
Spinal fractures are often caused by activities and events that lead to high-velocity impact. One can get this type of injury if they are involved in a vehicular accident, while playing sports, or as a result of falling, for example. It can be due to osteoarthritis or conditions that weaken the bones as well.
Activity-Related Causes of Back Pain
It’s possible for everyday activities to contribute to the development of back pain. This is particularly true for people who are inactive and those whose work or lifestyle requires them to carry out repetitive activities or tasks that require a lot of physical force and exertion. Some of the most common activity-related causes of back pain are:
Improper Lifting Techniques
Lifting with your back can strain it and increase your risk for back injuries. To lift items safely, it’s important to get a good grip on the object and maintain good footing. Squat down rather than bending your waist or kneeling, and lift with your hips and knees rather than your back. It’s also important to know the weight limit of the items you can safely lift without increasing your risk for injuries.
Poor Posture and Prolonged Sitting
Making a habit of slumping or slouching can cause misalignment in your musculoskeletal system. It can also wear away at your spine and increase your risk for injury. Meanwhile, prolonged sitting can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the spine, which can be another contributor to back pain. Make it a point to maintain good posture and stretch now and then to relieve the pressure on your back and reduce your chances of experiencing back pain.
Lack of Physical Activity
Lack of exercise and body movement can lead to the stiffening and weakening of the muscles that surround the spine. This, in turn, can cause poor posture and increase the risk of back pain. Also, a lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain which, in turn, can add to back strain.
Medical Conditions That Can Cause Back Pain
Finally, there are medical conditions that affect the spine and back, leading to back pain. Among the most common are:
Generally speaking, arthritis refers to any condition that leads to the stiffening and inflammation of the joints. There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis, and many of them affect the integrity of the spinal column.
Spine-related issues like spinal stenosis or the narrowing of the spinal canal and spondylosis or degenerative changes in the spine are just some of the many conditions that can trigger back pains.
Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
Emotional and mental stress can also be a factor in developing back pain. Anxiety, for example, can lead to changes in one’s posture and breathing patterns. It would be a mistake to discount the effect of one’s emotions on their perception of pain.
Back pain has many negative impacts on the people who have it, but in addition to this, it also has significant economic repercussions that are largely ignored by the general public. Knowing about its causes can help people become more cognisant of the activities and factors that can make them prone to back pain. Raising awareness, in turn, can help people take active steps in avoiding this condition.
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