6 Surprising Causes of Chronic Back Pain

If you have suffered from back pain before, then you know it can greatly affect your day to day quality of life. Back pain is a common type of chronic pain that most people will experience at some point in their lives.  Sometimes back pain can be the result of a severe injury or a serious health issue like arthritis. Cures for this type of back pain may require medical assistance.

However, most of the time, people don’t know what’s really causing their back pain, and that it can be alleviated by a few simple lifestyle changes. Here are some surprising lifestyle components that could be the culprit of your back pain.

Your Diet

According to Dr. Medhat Mikhael of the Orange Coast Memorial Center for Spine Health, being overweight or obese is one of the most common risk factors for back problems. Eating a high caloric diet can result in excess body weight, which puts more strain on your back muscles and also weakens your joints. A study in the Asian Spine Journal found that those who suffered from back pain also had gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain or food intolerance. The conclusion was that inflammation caused by certain foods, especially those high in fat and sugar, resulted not only in gastrointestinal complaints but in back pain as well. Cutting out foods high in processed sugars and sticking to a diet of lean meat, whole grains, and vegetables could help alleviate your back pain symptoms.

Your Exercise Routine (Or Lack Thereof)

Back pain can be the result of too much strenuous exercise, improper form during weight lifting, or a sports injury. If you are experiencing back pain after a sports injury, be sure to make an appointment with your sports medicine doctor to ensure the injury has not resulted in  slipped disc or ligament strain. After exercising, especially after heavy lifting, be sure to stretch your back. Gentle stretches for back pain, like hip bridges and yoga poses, including Cat-Cow and Sphinx pose, can help prevent injury after a workout.  

You also may be experiencing back pain because you are not exercising enough. According to the Mayo Clinic, you are at a higher risk for developing back pain if you do not exercise regularly. Weak, unused muscles in both your back and abdomen due to lack of exercise can lead to back pain.  Incorporate 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular and strength exercises into your schedule two to three times a week, focusing on exercises that target your abdomen and lower back.

Your Smoking Habit

If you smoke cigarettes, the first step to a healthier and pain-free lifestyle is to quit smoking. Not only is smoking bad for your heart and lungs, but it also could be the reason behind your back pain.  Research has found that because smoking deprives the body of oxygen, therefore weakening the muscles, smokers are up to three times more likely to develop back pain than non-smokers.  

Your Desk Job

Sitting down all day can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and result in acute or chronic back pain. If you work at a desk all day, poor posture, sitting down for too long, and even your office chair can cause back pain. Try to maintain good posture while sitting at your desk and avoid slumping your shoulders forward. Keep your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips, and hips over your ankles to maintain good posture at your desk. Sitting on your bottom all day can also cause back pain, so be sure to get up every hour or so to walk around for a few minutes. You may also consider switching out your desk chair for lumbar support throughout the day to prevent lower back pain.

You’re Stressed Out

According to the American Psychological Association, pain and tension in the back and neck are warning signs of stress. Sometimes our emotional stress or pain can manifest into physical pain. Muscle tension caused by stress, anxiety and depression can lead to aches and spasms in your back. Try managing your stress through yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Our bodies will tell us when it is time to slow down, make sure to listen.

Your Wardrobe

When you’re wondering what could be causing back pain, skinny jeans are probably not the first thing that comes to mind. A study by the British Chiropractic Association found that 73 percent of women could be suffering from back pain due to their wardrobe. The study found five major culprits including skinny jeans, oversized purses, coats with large, fluffy hoods, high-heels, and other unsupportive shoes. Make sure you are not wearing high-heels every day and are wearing shoes with supportive soles, to alleviate back pain.

For more information about treating chronic back pain, visit The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre online or book an appointment today.

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