5 ways you’re unknowingly hurting your back

5 ways you’re unknowingly hurting your back

Chronic back pain, especially lower back pain, is an increasingly common symptom shared by millions of Americans.

In fact, low back pain afflicts approximately 80 percent of adults at least once in their lives. It’s also the most common reason adults suffer job-related disability and missed work days.

“There are many different ways to treat back pain, including medical management, physical therapy or surgery,” says Dr. Jerrel Boyer, a neurosurgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “However, I encourage all my patients to recognize risk factors so as to prevent back pain from becoming a chronic and debilitating condition.”

Here are five factors that might increase your risk of suffering from back pain:

  1. Underlying diseases: Certain diseases, like arthritis and osteoporosis, can lead to inflamed or degenerating joints, bones and muscles.
  2. Genetics and age: Lower back pain becomes more common as we grow older and most commonly affects adults between the ages of 30 and 40. Genetics can also increase our risk of certain diseases that cause lower back pain.
  3. Physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain, which in turn puts more pressure on the back.
  4. Occupational hazards: Jobs that are labor intensive, such as those that require heavy lifting, or jobs that require sitting for long periods of time, can also place strain on your back.
  5. Smoking: Tobacco products can increase risk of serious ailments, including cancer and osteoporosis. Smoking also restricts blood flow to the spine, which can cause disc degeneration and prevent overall healing.

Whenever back pain becomes unmanageable, Dr. Boyer recommends consulting with your physician, who can properly measure and assess your spine health.

Does your back or neck hurt? Take our Back and Neck Pain Assessment and receive recommendations on what to do next based on your results.

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About the Author

Jaimie Oh
Jaimie Oh

Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.