5 Surprising Causes of Back Pain, A guest post from Joe Fleming

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5 Surprising Causes of Back Pain, A guest post from Joe Fleming

Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints people take to their doctor and chiropractor, and for many, it is a complete mystery where it came from. No hard workouts, no heavy lifting, so why is your lower back simply killing you? You would be surprised what seemingly harmless actions can lead to muscle strain, joint inflammation, and chronic pain in your back:

  1. Coughing and sneezing: Experiencing back pain when coughing and sneezing? Whether it’s cold and flu season that’s got you running for the tissues or simply seasonal allergies, continuous coughing and sneezing can truly do a number on your back muscles.

    The spinal column and associated muscles and ligaments that spread out from it are like the foundation for your body, full of nerve endings that can send and receive pain signals. If small tears exist in the muscle tissue in your back already, or even minimal damage to your spinal discs, coughing and sneezing can increase the pressure and strain placed on the spinal canal and connected muscles.

  2. Continuous carry on the same shoulder: Toting your laptop to and from work in the same bag everyday that you hang off the same shoulder? How about a heavy purse? Applying repeated weight and pressure to the same muscle group over and over without support actually throws off your balance, your gait (the way you walk), and your muscles. Muscles stiffen and tense up to compensate for the asymmetric load and tilted posture, and can even cause the opposite side of the spine to spasm.

  3. Sitting down too much: A ramp up in sedentary lifestyles finds many people sitting most hours of the day - at work, at meals, watching TV, surfing the internet, the list goes on. Experts recommend getting up to stretch and walk around at least every 45 minutes for a reason. Discs that make up our spinal columns have cushions between them as well as muscles and ligaments that attach to our bones and give us the ability to move and use our upper body.

    The back suffers when sitting for long periods of time because bad postures increase the pressure placed on the spinal column and back muscles. Hunching the shoulders forward pulls and strains the back overtime, while crossing the legs rolls the pelvis forward and awkwardly unstacks the spinal column. Additionally, sitting for hours and barely moving the back muscles reduces flexibility and blood flow to these crucial components of your body.

  4. Stress and anxiety:

    Feelings of stress and anxiety can physically manifest themselves as tension in your back, inflammation in your shoulder muscles, as well as headaches, and more. When humans are under stress, muscles clench and tighten and may not fully release for some time, leading to acute and chronic pain plus muscle spasms. Not only that, but feelings of stress, frustration and anger can also lead to poor lifestyle behaviors like overeating, not drinking enough water, and not getting exercise - actions which also lead to back pain.

  5. Old mattress:

    You’ve been needing a reason to get rid of your 15-year-old mattress, here’s a good one. Old mattresses equal bad night’s sleep. The lack of support for the natural curvature of the spine results in poor quality of sleep as well as added strain on the muscles and ligaments connected to the spine. In addition, the consequential exhaustion and routine tiredness you experience from not getting enough quality sleep makes you less likely to stay active and exercise back muscles, which helps prevent and treat back pain itself.

So what do you do? If some of these causes turns a little lightbulb on in your head, their solutions can be quite obvious. Invest in a new, supportive mattress, get up to stretch regularly when sitting for extended periods of time, and lighten the load of your purse or switch the shoulder on which you carry it.

For serious ailments like colds that have you hacking and coughing or unavoidable stress, consult your doctor and chiropractor for a treatment plan. Don’t forget to keep moving either - low-impact exercise and stretching are the best way to relieve back pain!