Why is sitting so bad for your back? Is back pain genetic? Researchers are always learning more about the science of spinal health. Read on for some facts that will help you better understand—and ultimately cure—your back pain.
Technology May Be to Blame
Sure, injuries and medical conditions can cause back pain. But the culprit could be your plugged-in lifestyle.
If you spend a lot of time hunched over your phone, beware: This can result in disc herniations, muscle strain, and pinched nerves—a condition some doctors call Text Neck.
Working on a computer all day also has its risks. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, your back will pay the price.
This position can cause stress on your lower back, which supports the weight of the top half of your body.
Your best bet: Get up and walk around at regular intervals. And for goodness’ sake: put down your phone.
Back Pain Isn’t Just a Physical Feeling
Depression is one of the most common psychological “partners” of chronic pain.
Some of this is all in your head—literally. Depression and chronic pain share some of the brain chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells (called neurotransmitters).
Chronic pain sufferers are three times more likely to develop psychiatric problems, and depressed people are three times more likely to develop chronic pain.
A connection between physical and psychological pain is apparent. Chronic back pain can significantly affect your quality of life by:
· Making you more dependent on others
· Limiting your ability to do activities you love
· Disturbing your sleep
· Negatively affecting your self-esteem
Treat your back pain, but don’t neglect the emotional symptoms associated with it.
Skinny People Have Back Pain Too
Yes, doctors will say that being overweight or obese increases your risk of back pain. It makes sense: Excess weight, particularly around your waist, can put strain on your back.
But thin people, including athletes, can also suffer from back pain.
Known risk factors of back pain include:
· Age (back pain becomes more common as we get older)
· Family history (some conditions may have a genetic component; see below)
· Daily activities that can strain your back, such as heavy lifting
Anyone can have weak muscles and limited flexibility… and that can contribute to back pain more than the number on your scale does.
Back Pain Could Be Genetic
Researchers believe there may be a genetic basis for disc degeneration and disc herniation.
If you have an immediate family member with disc-related lower back pain, you may be more than four times more likely to have lower back pain yourself, according to at least one study.
But a family history of back pain doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer. You can mitigate your risk by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking.
Back Surgery Doesn’t Always Work
Back surgery may be a last resort, but it’s not necessarily a reliable one.
The numbers vary, but it’s believed that most people still experience pain years after their back surgeries. One study, published in the journal Spine, showed that of 1,450 people who had surgery for disc degeneration, disc herniation, or radiculopathy, only 26% had returned to work two years after the surgery.
A dangerous side effect of surgery was also discovered in this study: There was a 41% increase in the use of painkillers compared to those who had similar diagnoses but did not undergo surgery.