Back pain and problems are among the most-reported issues by physicians in the United States. Although many instances of back pain go away on their own or with gentle treatment, nearly 16 million people in the US struggle with long-term or chronic back pain that affects them daily. This can result in missed workdays, high health care costs, and mobility issues you didn’t have before
Our experts at Elation Physical Therapy, Roy Rivera, Jr., PT, PhD, DPT, MCHES, Jonathan Koborsi, PT, DPT, and Joey Tat, PT, DPT, are experts when it comes to chronic back pain management and prevention. Our offices in Houston and Pearland, Texas, are well-equipped to provide you with physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and other services to reduce your pain and help you meet your functional goals.
You’re not alone in having concerns about chronic back pain, especially if you’ve had acute back pain at some point in time. We’ll go over five of the top risk factors for chronic back pain in this article.
1. Physical inactivity
It’s commonplace for most primary care doctors and other health providers to mention the importance of exercise. While exercise improves cardiovascular health and helps you manage weight, another important benefit is keeping back pain at bay.
If it’s been years since your last jog around the neighborhood or visit to your gym, now is the time to start making physical activity a priority. Weak muscles in your back and abdomen cannot adequately support your spine, and many imbalances and problems can occur.
Be careful starting, however, because intense exercise right away after years of inactivity can cause more harm than it resolves. You can talk to our physical therapists or other medical professionals about safely integrating moderate exercise into your routine.
2. Jobs that place stress on the back
Many career paths involve physical movements such as heavy lifting, twisting, or pulling. When repeated many times over time, especially if you’ve been in your current position for years, movements like these can cause wear-and-tear injuries to your back and lead to long-term pain.
Even jobs that involve little or no movement can put you at risk for chronic back pain. If you drive for a living or work at a desk, keep your posture in check and take frequent breaks to reduce the stress on your back.
3. Natural skeletal irregularities
Having spinal issues like spinal stenosis or scoliosis can increase your risk for chronic back pain significantly. If you have any, be sure to talk to our physical therapists about what you can do to keep back pain at bay.
Exercise helps, as does a healthy diet and great posture. You should also avoid smoking (this applies even if you don’t have any pre-existing back irregularities) if you want to minimize your risk for chronic back pain.
4. Being overweight or obese
Too much weight on your body increases several health risks, including chronic back pain and specific conditions that cause it. You can manage your weight by lowering the calorie count of your diet and limiting sugary foods and saturated fat. As we’ve already covered, exercise is also important for chronic back pain prevention as well as weight management.
5. Psychological conditions
It’s pretty common knowledge that physiological conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease can cause chronic back pain, but did you know that psychiatric conditions are a risk factor too?
People with depression, anxiety, and similar disorders are at a significantly higher lifetime risk of chronic back pain. While the correlation isn’t fully understood, experts suggest that stress-related muscle tension may be one of the reasons for this.
If you’re ready to start physical therapy to address back pain before it becomes chronic, or if you already have back pain, schedule by phone or online at Elation Physical Therapy today.