Back pain is a problem that many people face in their everyday activities. It’s important to know why your back might hurt and what can lead to back pain. Let’s dive into the five common causes of back pain and explore their risk factors.
Understanding Your Back
To better understand why your back might hurt, it is crucial to understand the complex structure that makes up the back. The back is a complicated assembly of bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves, all working together to support our body and allow us to move freely.
The spinal cord is at the core of everything, a vital structure that acts like a superhighway for messages between the brain and the rest of the body. This cord, composed of nerves, runs down the middle of the back and is protected by the vertebral column, also known as the spine.
The spine is a stack of 33 small bones called vertebrae, providing structural support and flexibility to the body. These vertebrae create a natural curvature of the spine, which forms 3 curves when viewed from the side. This shape is crucial for balance, enabling you to stand upright and absorb shock as you walk or run.
Between each vertebra, there are intervertebral discs, soft, cushion-like pads that act as shock absorbers, preventing the bones from rubbing against each other. They also provide flexibility, allowing the body to twist and bend.
The spine also supports a network of muscles and ligaments — the soft tissue. These structures provide strength and stability to the spine, helping to maintain its alignment and allowing for movement. The largest muscle groups, the paraspinal muscles, run along the length of the spine and play a significant role in activities like lifting and bending.
The back’s complex design enables a wide range of movements, from bending over to pick something up to twisting to look behind us. However, this complexity also means numerous parts can be injured or strained, leading to back pain. Understanding this structure can help you take better care of your back and possibly prevent back pain.
5 Common Causes of Back Pain
Now, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons your back might hurt.
1. Muscular Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains to the soft tissue are common causes of back pain. They usually occur due to overused or misused muscles, like when doing heavy lifting. Suddenly introducing the body to new activities to can strain the muscles and ligaments, leading to pain. To prevent this, it is important to use proper lifting techniques and take breaks when doing repetitive tasks.
2. Degenerative Conditions
As the body ages, with consistent use and abnormal pressure, some parts of the back may naturally wear out. Degenerative disk disease and types of arthritis are conditions that can lead to chronic back pain. These conditions are caused by breaking down the discs or joints that support the spine, which can lead to pain. Though age is a risk factor we can’t control, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can slow down degeneration and reduce the risk of developing back pain.
3. Herniated or Bulging Discs
Speaking of discs, another common cause of back pain is herniated discs. A herniated disc occurs when a disc in your back sticks out more than it should, often due to heavy lifting or sudden movements. This can press on a nerve in the spinal cord, causing pain. Pain can include a sharp, shooting feeling or numbness in the back and legs. Treatment options vary but can include chiropractic, physical therapy, medication, or in some cases, surgery.
Sciatica is a specific type of back pain that occurs when a disc or bone in the spine presses on the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs from the lower back down the legs. This can lead to pain not just in the back but also in the buttocks and legs. Avoiding prolonged sitting and regular exercise can help prevent sciatica. Chiropractic adjustments have been helpful in the relief of sciatic nerve pain for many people.
5. Lifestyle Factors
Lastly, lifestyle can play a big part in back health. Poor posture, excess weight, and a lack of physical activity are all risk factors for back pain. Sitting or standing with a slouched back can strain the soft tissue in the back and disrupt the spine’s natural curvature. Carrying excess weight puts extra pressure on the spine and muscles in the back. Regular exercise helps keep back muscles strong and flexible, helping them support the spine. Maintaining good posture, managing weight, and staying active can help keep your back healthy and pain-free.
Seeing a Chiropractor for Back Pain
Chiropractic care can be crucial in managing and even eliminating back pain. Chiropractors obtain their Doctor of Chiropractic degree and are trained in your spine and nervous system health. They use spinal adjustments to realign your spine and improve nervous system function.
How Chiropractors Can Help
Chiropractic care may help with several of the issues we’ve discussed. For instance, chiropractic care can help address herniated disks and sciatica by aligning the spine and taking pressure off the nerves causing pain.
For those experiencing chronic back pain from degenerative conditions, such as arthritis or degenerative disk disease, chiropractors can improve joint mobility and decrease the inflammation causing the pain.
Even muscular strains and sprains can benefit from chiropractic care. Ensuring the spine is correctly aligned may lessen the stress on your back muscles. The nerves going to the muscles could activate appropriately, allowing the muscle to fire better when being utilized after a chiropractic adjustment.
Back pain can be caused by many things, from strains and sprains to degenerative conditions, herniated discs, sciatica, and lifestyle factors. Understanding these common causes of back pain is essential so you can take steps to prevent it and seek the proper treatment. If you are experiencing persistent back pain, seeking professional healthcare advice is always a good idea. Understanding your back is critical to living a life free from the discomfort of chronic back pain.
At Better Day Chiropractic, we’re dedicated to serving you throughout your pregnancy and postpartum recovery. We also offer sports, family, and pediatric chiropractic care. If you are located in Charlotte or the surrounding areas, reach out to us today.