Back pain is one of the most common medical issues in the US, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Accidents, falls, lifting heavy objects, and age-related degeneration of the spine can result in back pain. What does back pain tell you about your health?
Who Gets Back Pain?
Anyone can experience back pain, but these factors can increase your risk:
- Older age
- Weight gain
- Poor fitness or sedentary lifestyle
- Job Type: People with jobs that require heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, and twisting are more prone to back pain. Consider wearing a back brace to increase back support if your work requires strenuous movements.
- Inflammation: Infections and inflammations can also cause back pain. For instance, ankylosing spondylitis is a specific type of inflammatory arthritis of the spine.
Some medical problems present with back pain, too, such as kidney infections.
Types of Back Pain
Back pain can range from dull and constant to sudden, sharp pain. There are also different classifications for back pain.
- Acute Back Pain: Acute back pain occurs suddenly and lasts for a few days to a few weeks.
- Subacute Back Pain: Subacute back pain can either come suddenly or gradually and last from one to three months.
- Chronic Back Pain: Chronic back pains occur gradually and recurrently for three months or longer.
How to Prevent Back Pain
There are simple remedies that can alleviate the less severe types of back pain.
Loosen up and relieve sore muscles by gently massaging them or hiring a professional therapist. If done the right way, massage can help reduce back pain, minimize days in bed, and may help lessen the need for anti-inflammatory medications.
Exercises that improve flexibility and muscle tone in the back and core muscles can alleviate lower back pain. Some of the exercises you can try are walking on flat ground, cobra pose during yoga, and push-ups. Proper stretching can also loosen tense muscles and strengthen those that need help.
Minimize the impact of sitting or standing too long by maintaining a good posture. Further, how you sleep plays a part in your back health. Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your feet helps the back muscles while asleep.
When to See a Doctor
While some kinds of back pain respond to home remedies, other more severe conditions need medical assistance. You should see a doctor if your pain lasts longer than a few weeks, gets worse after at-home treatments, or is accompanied by weakness, tingling, or numbness in your extremities.
You should also get medical treatment if you experience other symptoms that indicate a more serious problem. For example:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty going to the bathroom or making it to the toilet in time
- The back pain is accompanied by pain in other areas of your body, such as your chest or stomach.