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10 Reasons Your Back Is Killing You

How many times have you gotten home from work and thought: Damn. My back is killing me…

Once? Twice? Can’t actually tell because it’s all blurring into one big mountain of pain?

Yep.

Besides the common cold, back pain is the most common reason for sending people to the doctors. So don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. We humans are blessed with vertical spines but all this comes at a cost: the pain some of us experience that feels like all the time. Here are 10 reasons your back might be giving you a hard time:

1. You’re sitting at your desk all-day

This is one of the main causes of upper back pain. Sitting hunched over a screen for long hours can be detrimental for your spine and cause muscles to tighten up and this leads to stiffness and inflammation. Avoid this by taking regular breaks and make sure your chair is super comfortable and suitable for you body shape if your going to sit for long periods.

2. You’ve got bad posture

What does that mean? Well it depends on your spine shape. You need to find a position that your body can cope with for long periods. Relatively upright is best, but not for everyone. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or walking, keeping your back comfortably straight and training it to do so is important. Awkward postures can decrease the blood supply to muscles or overwork them – making them sore and stiff. Bad posture can also negatively impact the lower spine – putting your spinal joints at risk of pain. If you feel you have postural pain, get some help to suit your specific needs.

3. You’ve ‘pinched’ a nerve

Pinched nerves occur when a nerve is subject to pressure or trauma by inflammation, impingement, or a herniated disc. There are also other causes like arthritis and degenerative diseases, but often the risk increases with age. A pinched nerve feels like it is travelling, often associated with burning, tingling or a dull/numbing pain. If you think you’ve got a pinched nerve, it’s a good idea to see a health professional for a diagnosis.

4. You’re not exercising enough

Getting good exercise into your routine won’t just strengthen your back muscles – allowing them to deal with a higher level of stress – it’ll also help relieve tension and help you deal with the pain if it comes your way. Going for regular walks, runs, and doing proper warmups and stretches before and after exercise will also help your back overcome stiffness and pain.

5. Your mattress is broken

We spend a lot of time in bed. Roughly a third of our lives. But mattresses only have a lifetime of about 9-10 years. Something’s gotta give. If your back pain is persisting – try sleeping on a different bed and see how you feel after a few nights or a week. You might be surprised.

6. You’re exercising wrong

If you’re starting a new exercise routine it’s tempting to throw yourself into it with all you’ve got. But doing this could result in unintended back pain problems for weeks afterward if your body isn’t properly warmed up or conditioned for the activity. Forgetting to stretch and warm-up before strenuous exercise is a common reason why people end up missing a day of work or skipping the gym. Take care not to overdo it with repetitive movements that put unnecessary strain on your back muscles.

7. You could suffer from arthritis

Arthritis is a major cause and reason behind back pain, especially if you’re in an older age group. The two most common types are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage cushioning bones wears down allowing them to rub together. Rheumatoid arthritis is a more long-term autoimmune disorder that also affects joints, and both types can affect the spine.

8. You’re lifting wrong

The stereotypical back pain injury usually has some bad lifting technique to blame. Lifting “with your back” can be extremely harmful and put unnecessary pressure on your spine. Remember to always lift from your legs and keep your back neutral and supported. If you’re not sure, seek help from a physiotherapist.

9. You’ve had an accident

Severe trauma to the spine and muscles in the back can cause ongoing complaints for many. Incidents like a car crash, falling downstairs or a sporting injury can cause injury to the spinal bones, ligaments and put pressure on nerves, and cause inflammation in the soft tissues. Accidents can exacerbate pre existing conditions and can be blamed for chronic pain conditions that resurface later in life.

10. You’re under a lot of stress

Stress is a major factor that causes tension in the upper back and shoulders. While it’s not always a stressful moment that causes back pain – it’s the accumulation of stress over a long period that can cause muscles to seize up and become stiff and inflamed. Take the time you need to relieve yourself of stress by doing relaxing activities like taking a walk, yoga, spending some time at the beach, cooking, or listen to some relaxing music in the bath.

The verdict

At the end of the day, everyone’s body is different. Some causes of back pain are linked to previous injuries and you might find your specific cause is not listed above.

The important thing to know is when it’s time to get help. Getting a physio for back pain can be the helping hand you need in sorting out your back pain once and for all. Don’t let your pain get the best of you – call a qualified physio today.