You know why you’re in pain when you experience back pain after a car accident or a bad tackle on the field. Acute back injuries are usually straightforward to diagnose and treat. Things become more frustrating when your back pain comes out of the blue and persists. Pain like this leaves you guessing. Is it age? A disease? Something else?
Here are five sneaky things that can cause back pain at any age.
1. Your Feet
The human body is an impressive mechanical system. All our joints work together from the feet up. When one part becomes unbalanced, it can throw the whole system off. Many patients who’ve struggled with pain in their low back, knees or hips are surprised to find their feet are the culprit.
Flat feet, unsupported high arches, and gait problems destabilize the knees and hips, but sometimes low back pain is the only symptom. Your chiropractor can evaluate your feet and gait and recommend appropriate orthotics. They may also use physiotherapy to correct imbalances that have become entrenched. Wearing the right orthotics can prevent and treat back, knee, and hip pain and foot conditions like plantar fasciitis.
2. A Weak Core
Good fitness is the best medicine for many conditions, including back pain. The core muscles found along your spine and abdomen stabilize your movements and protect the spine and organs. A weak core is a common cause of chronic back pain.
Both children and adults can struggle with weak core muscles. In children, signs include trouble sitting up straight without supporting their head on their hands, and issues with motor coordination, such as doing up buttons or holding a pencil. Kids with weak cores sometimes seem fidgety and have trouble concentrating in school.
Adults with weak cores may find standing for a long time tiring or intolerable, may slouch forward frequently, and have trouble with balance.
Both kids and adults can strengthen their core muscles with a fitness routine. Your chiropractor can evaluate your core strength and prescribe exercises to build strength and endurance safely. When your core is strong, it will support your spine, preventing injury and pain. A stronger core has also been linked with improved mental health, higher energy levels, and increased well-being.
As discussed above, you may be more likely to have bad posture if your core is weak. Some people with strong cores also have bad posture habits. Your chiropractor can tell you why your posture is bad and prescribe stretches and exercises to improve it.
When rehabbing your posture, paying attention to what you do outside your chiropractor’s office is essential. Looking down at your phone with your neck puts pressure on the spinal cord and can straighten your cervical curve. Hunching forward over your desk or devices strains your neck and causes micro-tears in the muscles of your shoulders and upper back. These tears fill with scar tissue, leading to a sore, stiff back and neck.
Your lower back also needs support. Sitting in an unsupportive chair or with your legs far in front of you and your lower back away from the chair can cause lower and mid-back pain.
Chronic low back, neck and shoulder pain, and frequent tension headaches or migraines are symptoms of posture problems. The exercises and stretches your chiropractor prescribes will help to correct the damage and make it easier for you to hold a healthy posture. You may also need to adjust your workspace by positioning your screen at eye level or putting a pillow behind your back. You can correct your posture and relieve your pain by following through with your treatment plan and changing your everyday habits.
4. Bad Habits
Other bad habits besides posture can also harm your back. Smoking, lifting incorrectly, and not stretching or warming up before physical activity all put you at a higher risk for back injury and chronic back pain.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “lift with your knees.” It’s good advice, but just one part of safe lifting. When lifting, squat down and use the upward motion of your knees to lift the object, carry it close to your chest and keep your spine in a neutral position while moving it. Never lift an object over your head; if something is on the floor, squat down close to it.
A neutral spine position means that your legs are squared with your hips, and your head is centered between your shoulders. The upper back is flexed, and the lower back and neck are slightly extended (not bent or arched). Using this posture during strenuous activities like shoveling, snow removal, pushing, and lifting can prevent injury.
Before you do any of the activities listed above and before you work out at the gym, you should always warm up and stretch out. Spend five minutes doing a combination of dynamic moves like jumping jacks and high knees and static stretches like the hurdler stretch. This will get your circulation going, loosen up tight spots and lower your chances of injury.
Smoking might seem like it doesn’t quite fit with the other things we’ve discussed, but it is a risk factor for chronic back pain. Studies show that smoking decreases circulation to the back (and other areas). Lack of circulation makes you more prone to injury and slower to heal. Circulatory issues may also cause chronic pain disorders in un-injured people. By quitting, you can lower your risk of injury and chronic pain.
Fat is an endocrine organ that produces hormones. Too much fat causes increased inflammation and makes you more prone to chronic pain. Carrying extra weight also puts a mechanical strain on your back and other joints.
Obesity is a complex condition with more than one cause. You may need medical attention if you’ve struggled to lose weight through diet and exercise. Your doctor can run tests to see if hormonal problems are contributing to your weight gain. They may prescribe medications or surgery to help you lose weight.
Even modest weight loss can decrease your risk for heart disease and other problems associated with obesity. Your back will also thank you.
Back Pain Relief in Northern Kentucky
At All Star Chiropractic, we provide comprehensive back pain treatment and preventative care. Schedule a consultation today to find out how we can help you meet your wellness goals.