5 Common Causes of Back Pain

5 Common Causes of Back Pain

Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Well, you aren’t alone.

According to the Global Burden of Disease, back pain is the world’s leading cause of worker disability, affecting more than half of the working U.S. adult population in any given year.

Consisting of bones, ligaments, muscles, and joints, the back is a complex structure of the human body. But like all bodily structures, it’s prone to injury. So, what exactly causes back pain and how can you treat it?

1. Improperly lifting heavy objects is a leading cause of back pain

One of the most common causes of back pain is improperly lifting heavy objects. Many people are guilty of bending their back to lift objects. This stresses the spine and can lead to degenerative disc disease, herniation, bone spurs, and other related problems.

Rather than bending over, lifting is best performed by bending the knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground, at which point you can grasp the object and re-straighten your knees. This places the weight and stress of the object on your leg muscles instead of your back.

2. Being overweight is an increasingly common cause of back pain

The American Obesity Association (AOA) reports that roughly one-third of all obese adults in the U.S. experience musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, with the most common being back pain. The added weight forces the spine to bend at unnatural angles, resulting in painful curvature.

If you are currently overweight, follow a diet and exercise regimen that’s tailored towards your specific needs to shed those unwanted pounds. In addition to improving your confidence, maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of back pain.

3. Back pain can also be caused by prolonged sitting

You might be surprised to learn that sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk of back pain. It stresses spinal muscles, ligaments, and discs, causing them to wear at a faster-than-normal rate. What’s even more alarming is that studies show the average adult sits for nearly eight hours per day! You can avoid these problems by maintaining a physically active lifestyle.

If your job requires you to sit, try the following to minimize stress on your back:

  • Sit with feet planted shoulder-width apart.
  • Use an ergonomically designed desk.
  • Adjust your monitor so your eyes are level with the top.
  • Use a chair with lumbar support.
  • Most importantly, take a short break every 30-60 minutes to stand up and stretch.
  • Keep your spine vertical, using caution not to poke your head forward.

4. Believe it or not, sleeping on your stomach can also cause back pain

It may sound harmless enough, but sleeping on your stomach can lead to severe back pain and stiffness. It pushes the neck up, stressing the vertebrae and its supporting structures. You may not feel the effects after just one night of sleeping on your stomach. Over time, however, the pain slowly builds due to the constant stress.

Most professional chiropractors and spinal surgeons recommend sleeping on your back or side to avoid these problems. The right type of mattress—not too firm but not too soft—may also reduce the risk of back pain when sleeping.

5. Poor form when weightlifting can cause serious back problems

Weightlifting is undoubtedly an excellent way to burn calories and fat while building more muscle mass. Unfortunately, though, many inexperienced weightlifters use poor form, placing them at risk for serious and painful spinal injury.

You can reduce the risk of spinal injury by performing more reps with less weight. Also, machines have a lower risk of injury than dumbbells and other free weights.

If you develop back pain or discomfort after lifting weights, refrain from any additional strength training exercises until the pain has subsided.

What is Causing Your Back Pain? 

Don’t let back pain affect your quality of life. Contact the office of Milwaukee’s top spine surgeon, Dr. Branko Prpa, today to learn more about our industry-leading spinal surgery and other treatment options.


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