Back pain is not a phenomenon among the people of North America. It is estimated that 80 percent of us will suffer back pain at some time in our lives. Some will suffer more often, more excruciatingly, or more chronically, but 80 percent will know the pain. You may be among them.
There are back pain risk factors, just as there are risk factors for various diseases. If you know them, and modify your lifestyle and activity accordingly, you can reduce the possibility of back pain.
Age of Onset
Most people who experience back pain do so for the first time between the ages of 30 and 40. This is the decade when the body begins to lose its flexibility. Activities that once incurred no pain can suddenly make an individual unable to move freely.
Musculoskeletal strains are more common with people in the 30 to 40 age group. Lifting heavy objects, sudden twisting or jerking, and engaging in extended labor to which the body is not accustomed can all contribute to back pain.
Risk Factors for Back Pain
Below is a list (not exhaustive) of risk factors for back pain. Some can be avoided. Some demand proactive lifestyle changes.
- Activity: Those who live a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to experience back pain than those who regularly engage in activities. Those who maintain higher levels of physical fitness strengthen the core muscles of the back, legs, and abdomen, all of which support the back and avoid back pain. The activity must be regular, however. Those who have spurts of activity, getting involved in vigorous sports or heavy work only on weekends are at the greatest risk of injury with back pain. Regular, moderate levels of activity will put you at least risk for back pain.
- Weight: Obesity is hard on the back. The body strains to carry the excess weight and support the back, but the strain eventuates in varying degrees of back pain. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the only way to reduce this risk factor.
- Manual Labor: Some jobs require heavy lifting, often accompanied by twisting, vibrating, or jerking the spine. Such jobs put you at risk for back pain from injury. Learn the proper techniques for pushing and pulling, and wear a back support belt. Lifting techniques are described elsewhere on this website.
- Desk Jobs: Those with desk jobs are not necessarily at less risk for back pain than manual laborers. Sitting all day in a chair that is not ergonomically correct for you, or sitting with improper posture can rapidly lead to back pain. Try to adjust your chair so that you sit straight with feet firmly planted on the floor. Arrange your computer monitor so that the top of it is about 2″ above your eye level. Frequent times of stretching will also reduce the risk of back pain.
CAUTION: The author is not a medical professional, and presents this information for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing back pain, seek advice from your doctor.