According to the American Chiropractic Association, up to 80% of the entire population, from adolescents to the elderly, may experience back pain in their lives.
Fortunately, most people experience back pain due to mechanical or non-organic causes. That means that in the majority of cases, the cause of back pain is not a serious condition like inflammatory arthritis, infection, or fracture. Instead, the pain originates from their joints, bones, or ligaments in the spine. Most episodes of back pain typically improve with home treatment and self-care, and you can take many simple steps to prevent experiencing back pain.
Some actions to avoid back pain include maintaining a good posture, eating a healthy diet, avoiding heavy lifting, and doing back strengthening exercises.
Perhaps, one of the most effective measures you can take to prevent or get relief from back pain is to sleep on a mattress that supports your back and joints. With that said, you must make sure that the mattress you buy fits your bed dimensions accurately. You can find many excellent mattresses available designed for varying bed sizes that fit the bill. More on that later!
What Causes Back Pain?
The human back comprises a complex structure of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons. They work together and enable us to perform movements. Any problem with these components can cause back pain. There is no single cause that leads to back pain. Damage can occur due to one or more of the following causes or conditions:
Muscle or Ligament Strain
As mentioned, an injury to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons supporting the spine and the joints may lead to back pain. Strains occur when muscles get stretched too far and tear, damaging them. That often happens due to lifting heavy objects and twisting your spine at the same time. Performing safe lifting practices by keeping the item close to your chest can help prevent twisting your back, which causes muscle pain.
Muscle strain can also occur when you perform an awkward movement that places a sudden, jarring impact on your lower back, such as during a car accident or a fall.
High-impact sports like soccer and football also place excessive pressure on muscles and joints. That can strain back muscles and cause pain too. Besides, repeated, forceful motions while playing sports like rowing, golf, or baseball may also lead to chronic strain.
Poor posture is also one of the most common reasons that could lead to a pulled muscle. Prolonged slouching while sitting and standing can place added strain on your back muscles, reduce the blood supply to them, leading to stiffness in the lower back.
Also known as spondylosis, spinal osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and a common type of arthritis that affects the lower back. It happens when the cartilages in the joints weaken or break down.
The condition is more common in middle-aged people and causes pain, swelling, and inflammation. People usually experience severe stiffness in the back and the neck upon waking up in the morning. The pain subsides to a more tolerable level later in the day, and most people can go about their daily activities without hindrance. However, the pain worsens again at the end of the day.
According to the CDC, osteoarthritis affects about 33 million people in the US. While the exact cause is unknown, some common risk factors include aging and obesity.
A condition that causes bone mass to decrease and weaken, osteoporosis can lead to vertebral compression fractures. They lead to sudden, severe pain and limit mobility. Osteoporosis is one of the most common problems that lead to back pain in the US.
Roughly 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone density, which puts them at an increased risk for osteoporosis. About 500,000 spinal fractures occur each year due to the condition. As bone growth slows as people age, osteoporosis mainly affects men and women over age 50.
Sciatica refers to pain that affects the sciatic nerve- the longest nerve in our body connecting the spine to the legs. The most common cause of Sciatica is a slipped disc or ruptured disc, which puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. It causes numbness or burning sensation because of a nerve in the lower back being pressed on or squeezed.
Sciatica originates in the lower back, radiating into the buttock and traveling down the leg. Some people may feel pain in the legs and feet more than in their back.
Scoliosis, Kyphosis, and Lordosis are common abnormal curvatures of the spine. These spinal deformities are developed and diagnosed during childhood or adolescence years. They usually cause pain in middle-aged people by placing pressure on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the spinal cord.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain in the body, caused by physical injury, infection, or stress. While fibromyalgia occurs throughout the body, back pain is often the first symptom people notice.
An often-overlooked reason for muscle tension in the spine is psychological stress. While it may seem hard to believe, stress, anxiety, and mood disorders cause the release of cortisol and adrenaline. That leads to the tightening of your muscles, most commonly around the neck, shoulders, and down the lower back. Prolonged tension in these parts of the body may lead to lower back pain.
Although rare, spinal infections like osteomyelitis and discitis can cause severe back pain in some adults. The primary cause of these infections is bacteria in the bloodstream, which reaches the spine through a vascular route.
Preventing Back Pain
You may diminish the risks of experiencing back pain and reduce its severity by making some positive lifestyle adjustments. Follow these few simple techniques to live a happy, healthy life free from back pain.
Perhaps one of the best ways you can prevent back pain is by staying active and being on the move. Keep your back muscles strong by doing back and abdominal strengthening exercises at least a couple of days a week. That can help decrease your risk of back-related injuries, like strains and muscle spasms.
Good eating habits will help you maintain healthy body weight and prevent unnecessary stress on your body. Eating fatty foods or those high in sugar can cause inflammation and lead to back pain. They can also increase your risk of obesity which is a risk factor for developing or aggravating back pain. The extra weight pulls the pelvis forward, straining the lower back, causing lower back pain. A steady stream of calcium and vitamin D will help you build and maintain strong bone health.
As mentioned earlier, a good posture while sitting and standing is critical to protecting the intricate components of your spine to keep them strong and functioning properly. A poor posture such as a forward head or rounding shoulders will strain your back, core, and abdominal muscles. That will reduce the blood supply leading to stiffness and weakened muscles, making them more susceptible to injury.
Right Sleeping Position
A good posture while sleeping is equally important. You must correctly align your spine and fill any gaps between your body and the bed by using a pillow. While the best sleeping position is a highly debatable topic, many suggest that you sleep on your back to avoid back pain.
It is a well-known fact that smoking puts you at an increased risk of heart disease and various cancers. But do you know that it can also lead to persistent back pain? In short, yes! Smoking reduces the blood flow to the bones and tissues in the spine.
The decrease of oxygen-rich blood flow causes degeneration of spinal discs and prevents new bone growth. That may lead to osteoporosis and fracture.
Choose the Right Mattress
Sleeping on the wrong mattress can also cause or worsen back pain. An unsupportive mattress will reinforce poor sleeping posture and strain your muscles. It will not help keep your spine in alignment, contributing to low back pain.
Memory foam and latex mattresses are generally the best. As mentioned earlier, you may want to look into an orthopedic one, as it promotes a healthy posture alignment and can provide relief from spinal back pain.
There are many types of mattresses out there for different bed sizes. As a mattress is a long term investment, you must choose one that not only fits your bed dimensions but provides support for the natural curves and alignment of your spine.
Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, including in the United States. Consequently, it is a common reason for millions of people to limit their everyday activities, seek medical consultations, and miss work.
In most scenarios, back pain subsides in a few days and with some self-care. That includes applying a cold pack, taking over-the-counter pain medications, or lying sideways while sleeping.
With that said, if your pain does improve after 72 hours of using self-care methods, you must call your doctor. Never ignore the pain, as it may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. They will diagnose the cause and create the appropriate treatment plan for your problem.