What Causes Back Pain?
A disc is a jelly-like cushion that sits between the vertebrae in your spine. When a disc slips, it is called a herniated disc.
If you have a herniated disc, you will likely experience some pain, tingling, and weakness. Pain will vary based on the location of the herniated disc. You may experience a sharp or burning pain in the back of the leg, buttocks, foot, neck, shoulder, or arm.
Sciatica is a condition in which a nerve in the lower back is irritated. This inflammation can be caused by a herniated disc.
Sciatica pain may feel like a sharp or burning pain in the lower back, buttock, and leg. The pain can worsen with too much or too little movement.
Working a job that requires a lot of bending, lifting, or movement can put unwanted pressure on your spine. However, working a job that is overly sedentary may put you at risk for back pain as well.
If you are an athlete, you are at a higher risk of developing back pain. Getting hit in a contact sport like football can lead to injury to the neck and back. When the injury is healed, arthritis can occur and cause inflammation and pain in the back.
In general, overuse can lead to back pain. If you are an athlete experiencing pain in your back, be sure to take a break and speak with a back doctor before making it worse.
If you find yourself experiencing back pain after waking up in the morning, it is a good sign that your mattress may be causing it.
When mattress shopping, aim for a mattress that is not too soft or too firm. Be sure to ask a back specialist for their recommendations on a mattress that will help your back pain.
How to Prevent Back Pain
When it comes to back pain, most people focus on relief instead of prevention. It’s not always a quick fix, so taking measures to prevent your back pain from happening is key.
Start Doing Preventative Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is one of the best ways to prevent back pain from occurring. If you are already experiencing back pain, it is also a great way to relieve it and make your back stronger.
Exercises for Lower Back Pain
To prevent lower back pain, you will want to do a mix of stretching and strengthening exercises. Focus on building your core muscles and glutes.
Bridges strengthen your glutes, a muscle that plays a big role in supporting your lower back.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and your arms at your sides
- Raise your hips off the ground
- Bring your hips back to the ground
- Repeat 20 times
2. Cat Stretch
This common yoga pose helps to lengthen the spine, which increases mobility and stretches the back gently.
- Start in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the ground
- Arch your back and tuck your chin towards your chest
- Go back to the tabletop position, or switch to cow pose
- Repeat 10 times
This exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings, core, and helps to improve posture.
- Lay on your stomach with your arms and legs out
- Gradually lift your arms, legs, and head off the floor
- Hold for 10 seconds
- Go back to your starting position and repeat 3 times
Exercises for Upper Back Pain
1. Thoracic Extension
A Thoracic extension can help to improve mobility in the back, ease shoulder pain, and improve the curve of the spine.
- Start by sitting up in a chair
- Lean back, moving your chest forward
- Hold for 10 seconds
2. Wall Angels
Doing wall angels every day is a great way to improve your postural muscles. This will help support your shoulders so that they stay back.
- Stand with your back to a wall
- Move your arms out with your elbows at a 90-degree angle
- Bring your arms up, making your hands touch
- Repeat this motion 20 times
3. Shoulder Roll
Shoulder rolls help to strengthen your shoulders, upper back, and neck. Strengthening these muscles will lead to better posture.
- Start with your arms at your sides
- Move your shoulders forward, making a circle
- Repeat 10 times
- Move your shoulders backward
- Repeat 10 times
Invest in Ergonomic Equipment
If you work in an office, you have probably experienced back pain at some point. Having a desk job without the proper equipment can lead to bad posture, neck strain, and loads of preventable back pain.
Ergonomic equipment is designed to increase productivity, comfort, and energy. If you are not sure where to start, some of the most important ergonomic items for any desk job include:
- Ergonomic chair
- Cushioned mat to stand on
- Sit-stand desk or laptop stand
Eat Healthy and Exercise
Being sedentary is one of the worst things you can do to your back. If you work a desk job or find yourself sitting often, it is important to find ways to move throughout your day.
If you have severe back pain, try doing more low-impact exercises like walking, biking, or swimming.
People who are overweight are at higher risk for developing back pain. If you are experiencing back pain and you are overweight, talk to a doctor about how to live a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Modify Your Activities
If you have back pain, you may need to make a lifestyle change to prevent it from happening in the future. Here are a few things to avoid:
- Do not lift heavy items
- Avoid sitting for too long
- Do not work an overly physical job
- Avoid flat shoes and heels
- Avoid activities that make your back pain worse
How Can I Treat my Back Pain?
There are many things you can do to treat your back pain. Treatment will vary based on your condition, so it is important to seek help from a back specialist. Our back doctors in Nashville, TN, may recommend the following treatment options:
Non-surgical Treatment for Back Pain:
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Activity modification
Surgical Treatment for Back Pain:
- Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
- Anterior lumbar interbody fusion
- Oblique lumbar interbody fusion
- Lateral lumbar interbody fusion
- Posterior spinal instrumented fusion
- Artificial disc replacement (cervical spine only)
Cadman, B. (2020, January 24). 10 exercises to strengthen the lower back. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323204#knee-to-chest-stretches.
Davis, N. (2019, March 25). Try This: 17 Exercises to Relieve Upper Back Pain, Neck Pain, and More. Healthline. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/upper-back-pain-exercises.