According to the American Chiropractic Association, roughly 31 million Americans are suffering with some type of back pain right this moment.
And if you’re not one of them, chances are you will be at some point since an estimated 80 percent of the population struggles with a back issue at least once in their lives.1
While these types of statistics are grim and may entice you to want to just sit and wait for your back issue to arrive, the reality is that a number of back conditions can be prevented. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones, as well as the various things you can do to prevent them so you hopefully find yourself in the 20 percent of the population that has no idea what back pain feels like (or, to keep you from having more problems if you are already part of the unfortunate 80 percent).
Common back issues
When the discs in your back are either misaligned or damaged in some way, you are likely to have some degree of pain, which may make it more difficult to move around and engage in the simplest of activities.
Two of the most common disc issues are herniated discs and degenerative discs.
- Herniated discs tend to be most problematic to your lower back and occur when the jelly-like substance inside the disc pushing against the sturdier disc covering manages to seep out of place. This places pressure on the spine and the nerves that it encompasses, potentially causing pain, numbness, and weakness in the back and legs.2
- Disc degeneration is also common to the lower back and references the normal aging of the spine. Degeneration occurs due to loss of fluid in the discs or tiny cracks that make it easier for the soft jelly center to force through the outer covering.2
Another common back issue involves spraining or straining the muscles in your back, which is when the muscles stretch too far, potentially causing them to tear. Sometimes this creates muscle spasms, which can make matters even worse.3
So, what can you do to possibly avoid these types of common back issues? Here are five suggestions to consider:1–3
- Lift carefully. When you’re lifting something, use your leg muscles to carry the brunt of the weight, not your back. Also, watch that you don’t twist your back while you lift as that could cause issues too.
- Lose excess weight. The more extra weight your body has to carry around all day, every day, the worse it is for your spine and back muscles. Even losing a few pounds can help prevent back-related issues.
- Move around. Although it may seem as if movement could raise your risk of having back issues, being sedentary can create problems too. So, move around every 60 minutes or so if you tend to spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one place.
- Quit smoking. Not only is smoking bad for your lungs, but it can also deprive your spinal column of the oxygen it needs to be as healthy as possible. gov is a free resource that may help you overcome this type of addiction by working with you to create a plan and providing various tips to help you finally put down the cigarettes once and for all.
- Engage in regular chiropractic care. When you regularly tend to the health of your back through consistent chiropractic care, it is able to better withstand the demands placed upon it. It is the same principle as going to the dentist for semi-annual checkups to help ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
Granted, not all back issues can be prevented, but do these five things and you stand a better chance of getting (and staying) back pain free.
1 American Chiropractic Association. “Back Pain Facts & Statistics.” ACAToday.org. http://www.acatoday.org/level2_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=68. Accessed March 2015.
2 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Herniated disk in the lower back.” OrthoInfo.AAOS.org. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00534. Reviewed November 2012. Accessed March 2015.
3 Ullrich P. “Pulled back muscle and lower back strain.” Spine-Health.com. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/pulled-back-muscle-and-lower-back-strain. Updated March 2012. Accessed March 2015.