Lifestyle choices linked to back pain
New research presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons shows that low back pain is associated with nicotine dependence, obesity, alcohol abuse and depressive disorders.
Study leaders reviewed more than 26 million patient electronic records from 13 health care systems across the U.S. Of those patients, 1.2 million were diagnosed with low back pain.
“Back pain is any symptom consisting of discomfort, weakness, soreness or tightness in the musculature of the neck, mid or lower spine area,” says Dr. Joshua Alpert, orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “Other common symptoms can include numbness, tingling and shooting pain down the legs.”
Survey results showed:
- 3 percent of the patients diagnosed with a depressive disorder
- 75 percent diagnosed as obese
- 53 percent diagnosed with nicotine dependence
- 66 percent with alcohol abuse
The study also found that the common condition can cause disability, missed work, high medical costs and diminished life quality.
According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yearly, nearly one-third of U.S. adults suffer from low back pain.
Dr. Alpert’s tips to alleviate back pain include:
- Keep core muscles of the abdomen and low back strong
- Stretch – including your back
- Heating pads can help loosen up a stiff back
- Be consciousness of your posture – sitting and standing up straight is key
- Change positions every 30 minutes to avoid stiffness
- Always use your legs instead of bending at the waist when picking something up
- If pain persists, taking medication like anti-inflammatory or a muscle relaxer can help improve the back pain symptoms, but will not make it go away
- Consider a formal supervised physical therapy program to stretch and strengthen core muscles if you have chronic back pain
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