Unhealthy Habits That Cause Back Pain

Everyone has bad habits, and unfortunately, they are not easy to break. Some bad habits are relatively harmless, but others may lead to a risk of injury over time. There are many bad practices that contribute to debilitating back conditions such as degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, herniated discs, and more.

Frequent Offenders

As mentioned, there are a myriad of bad practices that may lead to painful back problems. Some of these habits may seem unrelated, while others are obviously associated with the spine. The most common bad habits that contribute to back pain include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Evading visits to the doctor
  • Improper body mechanics
  • Smoking and drinking
  • Poor posture

Lack of Exercise

For people of all ages, leading an active lifestyle makes a huge difference when it comes to pain. For people with back conditions, this difference is even greater. That’s because there is a natural correlation between a sedentary lifestyle and back pain. When a person does not exercise enough, they often develop muscle stiffness and weight gain. Weight gain puts even more pressure on the spine and surrounding muscles, as these structures must carry that additional burden. This added pressure causes muscle stiffness and even pain due to the need to support the increase in weight.

Ideally, a person should exercise for 30 minutes per session, three to five times a week. Of course, these numbers may change based on a variety of factors. Such factors include weight, gender, pre-existing medical conditions, and more. It is important that you know your body well before attempting rigorous activity. Overdoing an exercise is sometimes just as bad, if not worse, than not exercising at all.

Choose an activity that you enjoy. After all, it is much easier to stick to a routine that you like doing than it is to force yourself into repeating exercises that you hate day in and day out. Remember, there are many alternate forms of exercise—you don’t necessarily have to hit the gym. Yoga, dancing, and even martial arts are just a few other examples that you may want to try.

Avoiding the Doctor

There are many reasons as to why some people avoid visits to the doctor. Some people simply have trouble fitting an appointment into their jam-packed schedules. On the other hand, there are those who experience anxiety over receiving a lecture about poor lifestyle habits. These reasons are easy for us to empathize with, but the truth is that you should never avoid the doctor. There is always a way to fit an appointment in somewhere, and it will benefit you greatly to do so.

In particular, back pain should never be left unchecked. If your back hurts for more than a few days or you are having extremely painful symptoms, always see a doctor. There is a good chance that your condition may worsen if it is not checked by a medical professional. Your care provider might be able to diagnose the problem immediately and provide you with an effective treatment as soon as possible. Examples of such conservative treatments include:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Specific lifestyle changes
  • Low-impact exercises

Improper Body Mechanics

A startling amount of people exhibit bad habits while lifting. Lifting heavy objects puts extra strain on the joints, muscles, and spine. Because of this, it is extremely important to understand proper body mechanics so that you can lift heavy burdens safely. When lifting heavy objects, a small mistake may lead to a serious injury.

There are a slew of common adages for safely bearing heavy loads. Firstly, you should never bend at the waist when lifting. On the contrary, you should bend from the knees and use your legs to support the weight of the object that you’re lifting. Secondly, always make sure that you have a good grip on the object. Losing your grip on the object that you are trying to lift can easily lead to injury. Lastly, you should never, ever twist while lifting. Instead, always lift in a smooth, straight up-and-down motion.

Smoking and Drinking

Patients who drink and smoke are more likely to develop back problems than people who don’t. Medical science has yet to prove the association between these habits and back pain, however, they strongly correlate statistically. Because there are so many smokers and drinkers who develop back problems, it is just too hard to ignore. Drinking can be done in cautious moderation, but you should always seek professional help if you have an underlying addiction.

As far as smoking is concerned, it’s honestly just best to quit altogether. There are many different resources and avenues that your doctor can recommend to help you eliminate these substances from your life. Remember, if you do have troubles with these substances, do not let anxiety push you away from getting the help that you need. Please, seek professional guidance.

Poor Posture

If you spend a good portion of your day sitting at a desk or in front of a television, then there is a very good chance that you have also developed poor posture. When a person has poor posture, it causes their spine to bend out of alignment. This misalignment increases the risk of developing sciatica, disc pain, and other uncomfortable conditions.

If you have to sit down, keep your back straight, your head level, and your shoulders back and relaxed. Remember to keep your feet slightly apart while also bending your knees at a 90-degree angle.

The hardest thing about maintaining good posture or avoiding bad posture is that this process is mostly involuntary. You may remember these tips for 10-15 minutes, and you may even follow them perfectly. While that may be true, it is also likely that you’ll get absorbed in what you are doing. Then, without you even knowing, your body will naturally revert back to a position of poor posture. This problem can be alleviated by wearing corrective posture gear. That being said, it is not recommended that you wear such gear 24/7. Instead, just use it for periods where you know you will be sitting down for an hour or two.

Surgical Solutions

Surgical procedures vary far and wide in regard to spinal problems. If conservative treatments have not adequately alleviated your symptoms, your care provider may recommend surgery. Thankfully, due to advancements in the field, traditional open surgery is not the only option anymore. Minimally invasive surgical procedures have become much more commonplace and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Most minimally invasive surgical solutions involve small incisions, no more than an inch in length. Naturally, this carries the benefits of minimal scarring, quicker recovery time, minimal risk factors, and more.

For some cases, minimally invasive surgery is not a viable option. Your doctor or surgeon will be able to inform you about the nature of your condition and your best treatment options. If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms associated with the spine, please contact us at (973) 538-0900 or fill out a form online. The Advanced Spine Center boasts a team of leading experts skilled at administering both conservative treatments and minimally invasive surgical procedures. At The Advanced Spine Center, you can rest assured that you will be receiving a care plan personally tailored to your case.