HEALTH CENTER

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Common Causes of Back Pain (and How to Fix It)

woman stretching arms behind her back

Back pain is a painfully common condition; it is responsible for the most doctor visits and days taken off work. Back pain is also the leading cause of disability in the nation.

At some point or another, you are likely to experience some kind of back pain. Fortunately, most back pain is acute and passes within a few weeks. Most home remedies are sufficient to relieve most back pain.

But what can we do to avoid the common causes of back pain in the first place?

As mentioned above, most back pain is acute, meaning that it is caused by strenuous activity and lasts a few weeks. Chronic back pain typically has other underlying issues that require more professional medical attention.
Let’s take a look at some of these causes and conditions:

Heavy or Repeated Lifting

If you overwork your back muscles or if your back muscles are relatively weak, you may easily sprain a muscle or ligament from repeated heavy lifting. When lifting something heavy, bend and lift from your knees instead of careening over with your back. Not only does this give you more leverage when lifting something heavy, but it also protects your back from unnecessary strain.

Spinal Deformities, Scoliosis or Poor Posture

Abnormal curves in the spine do not always cause back pain, but they can put unnecessary pressure on discs, joints, and nerves. This pressure is unpredictable but can cause back pain.

Bulging or Ruptured Discs

Bulging discs occur when a disc compresses, bulges out of normal alignment, and puts pressure on the spinal nerve. Ruptured discs, also known as herniated or slipped discs, occur when disc fluid leaks into the spinal canal. This can be very painful and uncomfortable.

Some of these causes are avoidable while others happen naturally and unexpectedly. If you’re experiencing back pain, you can try some home remedies to work through it. Be careful as you stretch or exercise your back muscles especially as you are experiencing pain. If your muscles are strained or overworked, you’ll want to treat them gently and avoid amplifying the problem.

Stretch

Stretching can loosen tense muscles and strengthen weak ones. Again, be careful as you stretch and do not push through any stretch that feels uncomfortable or causes more pain. After stretching regularly for a few days, you may notice a difference in your back pain.

Practice Good Posture

Whether sitting, standing or walking, your posture will affect the way your back feels. If you live with your back out of proper alignment, your muscles will get overworked trying to hold you up. You can minimize this pressure by practicing better posture. Keep your shoulders back and your chin up!

Get a Gentle Massage

Massages loosen tense muscles and can relieve back pain. Ask your masseuse (or your partner!) to give you a gentle massage with medicated rubs and oils.

If you experience back pain that is inexplicable, intense or long term, or if you’ve tried home remedies and don’t feel relief from your back pain, consider seeking medical attention. Mayo Clinic lists the following reasons to see a doctor for your back pain:

 

  • Constant or intense pain
  • Spreads down one or both legs
  • Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Occurs with unintended weight loss
  • Occurs with swelling or redness on your back

 

Back pain is inconvenient but common. When you’re experiencing pain, remember that others have endured well and that your pain will pass. Be careful with your back and be kind to your body as you try to relieve the pain. With a little self-therapy or medical help, you’ll be feeling much better!