7 Common Causes of Back Pain and Easy Solutions
More Causes and Solutions for Your Sore BackBack breaker: You like to light up.
Cigarettes aren't just hell on your heart and lungs. "Smokers have a higher incidence of recurring back problems," Dr. Katz says. The cause and effects of this are many. Nicotine restricts blood flow to vertebrae and disks, so they may age and break down more quickly. It may also interfere with the body's ability to absorb and use calcium, leading to osteoporosis-related bone and back problems. You know what you have to do: Quit. Go to smokefree.gov to customize your own smoking cessation plan.Back breaker: You're an emotional mess.
It's no secret that struggling with pain can take a toll on your mental health, and studies have shown that people with back pain are more likely to be depressed. But now doctors are discovering that the reverse may be true as well: In research from the University of Alberta in Canada, people with major depression were four times as likely to develop disabling low-back and neck pain. Some scientists believe that poor coping skills related to depression, such as withdrawing or avoiding problems, may trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, causing back and shoulder muscles to tense up and spasm. "The result can be a devastating cycle of chronic pain and depression," Dr. Moyad says. Antidepressants as well as mood enhancers like exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help ease stress and make you feel better.Back breaker: You're a slave to fashion.
Sure, sky-high stilettos are a no-no, but it turns out that flats can cause trouble, too. "Sandals and flip-flops often provide little, if any, arch support. Continuous wear can lead to back, knee, and foot problems down the line," says Megan Tabor, a chiropractor at the Osher Clinical Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital. But don't worry: You needn't settle for all function and no flair. Alternate styles throughout the week -- from high to low, sneakers to sandals -- and avoid wearing a particular pair every day. "Shoes should fit properly and offer good arch and heel support," Tabor says. If you walk to work or the bus stop, wear shock-absorbing sneakers, then slip on cuter kicks once you get to the office. Your purse could also be to blame, especially if it's huge and you're lugging it on one shoulder. Try a tote with a wide, padded strap; carry it messenger style; and lighten the load. According to the American Chiropractic Association, your bag should weigh less than 10 percent of your body weight.Back breaker: You baby your back.
Lying down minimizes stress on the lumbar spine; however, staying sedentary for more than a day or two can actually prolong and worsen pain. In a new study from Sweden, back pain sufferers who remained active recovered more quickly and felt less depressed than those who took it easy. "Low-impact activities like walking and swimming boost blood flow to back muscles while relieving pain and stiffness," Dr. Venesy says. Yoga, with its emphasis on stretching and strengthening, may be one of the most effective spine soothers. After three months of weekly sessions, 60 percent of back-pain sufferers who participated in an Archives of Internal Medicine study reported less discomfort, and 40 percent were able to cut back on pain meds.
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