To put it in simple terms, back or spine pain can threaten us in two ways. The first (and most worried) factors are those we can not control. This may include:
- Being middle-aged or older
- Having a family history of back pain
- Having suffered a back injury before
- Being pregnant. A woman's back is significantly stressed by carrying a baby
- Having had a compression fraction of the spine
- Having had back surgery before
- Having congenital spine problems (problems present since birth).
Even though uncontrollable risk factors often cause the most worry, the majority of people who experience back ache or pain do so as a result of external / lifestyle influences. Remember that up to 80% of people suffer from back ache at some point or another. Out of that 80%, only a small portion of people would have had back problems since birth, being pregnant or suffering compression fractures of the spell. Only a small percentage would have experienced back problems as a result of uncontrollable risks. In other words, many people are at risk of developing back pain because of the lifestyle choices they make. These may include:
- Not getting enough exercise. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent / manage back pain.
- Having a job or doing an activity that requires long periods of sitting, heavy lifting, bending or twisting.
- Smoking. People who smoke are more likely to develop back pain.
- Being overweight. Excess body weight, especially around the waist, puts excess strain on the spine which can lead to weak muscles, poor flexibility and pain.
- Having poor posture. Slumping or slouching can cause back pain and worsen an existing strained or injured back. The correct posture generally means your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line. If this posture causes you pain, you may have another condition such as a problem with a disc or bones in your back.
- Being under stress. Stress and other emotional factors can play a major role in back pain, particularly chronic low back pain. Many people naturally tighten their back muscles when they are under stress.
- Playing certain sports. High intensity activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tobogganing and gymnastics come with a high risk of injury. Wrestling and other contact sports such as football and rugby also increase the risk for developing back problems as a result of injuries. These injuries can result in back pain either through direct injury to back, or through injury to other parts of the body that cause abnormal stress on the back.
Even though back ache is common, it's important to remember that it is not normal. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is not quite right. There will always be a reason for your back pain, even if you have not found it yet.