The Many Mysteries of Back Pain: Why it Remains One of the World's Leading Causes of Disability
When it comes to health complaints, few are as common as back pain. In fact, back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide—even more so than all forms of cancer combined! Although this statistic may seem alarming, there’s no need to panic just yet. Most people who experience back pain will be able to find relief without the need for long-term care or invasive surgery. Here’s everything you need to know about why back pain remains one of the world’s leading causes of disability and how you can reduce your risk of developing debilitating chronic back pain in the future.
What Is Back Pain?
The first step toward treating back pain is learning how to identify your symptoms. In general, back pain has been defined as pain or discomfort in any part of your body that extends from your back to other parts—such as your legs, arms, or neck. Most often, however, we experience pain in our lower backs (lumbar region) and upper backs (thoracic region). The exact mechanism of most back pains isn’t clear—though scientists believe they’re caused by a misalignment in one or more structures inside your spine; whether that’s a disc bulge or spinal ligament misalignment remains unclear.
Identifying the Cause(s)
Because there are so many potential causes of back pain, it’s important to rule out potential problems in your lifestyle. Often times, lifestyle factors like diet and exercise—or even chronic stress—can lead to back pain. In order to determine which factors might be contributing to your back pain, make a list for yourself about what’s going on in your life right now. Stressors? Exercise habits? Food choices? Once you have that information written down, think about how each factor could potentially affect your back pain. Then, think about how you can eliminate those things from your life or change them in some way to reduce their negative impact on your body. For example, if you know that stress is causing you to sleep poorly at night and affecting your ability to move throughout the day with ease, try meditating every morning before work or scheduling some time during lunch break to do yoga stretches. Or maybe when you come home from work each day you spend an hour cooking dinner instead of ordering takeout (which means less time watching TV). These are just two examples of how small changes can help reduce chronic stress levels and lower risk for future back issues.
5 Surprising Causes of Low-Back Problems
Although low-back pain is a complex and often misunderstood condition, there are several surprising culprits that can be blamed for many back problems. Some of these include smoking, working at a desk job, lack of exercise, obesity and bad posture. Although genetics can also play a role in back pain—especially if you have a family history—the good news is that preventive measures may help you avoid low-back pain before it even begins.
How to Stop & Avoid Lower-Back Discomfort
There are several things you can do to alleviate lower-back pain, but they all start with learning why your back hurts in the first place. Find out which common habits could be causing your discomfort and what exactly happens when your back goes out. Armed with knowledge, you’ll be able to stop your back from hurting—and also prevent future problems.
Yoga & Stretching Tips for Less Stiffness & Better Mobility
Stretching is a great way to relieve muscle tension and pain, so look for ways to incorporate stretching into your routine. Yoga has been shown to help reduce overall discomfort and improve mobility over time. For example, adding yoga into your daily workout can help keep back pain from reoccurring. A few easy poses to try include cat-cow pose, downward facing dog pose, and standing forward bend pose. Be sure to consult a doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program!
Exercise Tips for a Healthy Back
Studies have found that people who exercise and stay active tend to suffer from less back pain than those who sit still. Exercises that focus on strengthening your core are particularly beneficial—these exercises help stabilize your back, giving you more control over its movements. Incorporate these exercises into your routine for better spine support.