Just about everybody has to deal with minor back pain at one time or another. Although a minor incident may set off a back injury, the underlying problem may have been in development for a long time. Most minor back pain will resolve itself within a few weeks; some conditions require medical attention.
Know your back! The bones and joints of your spine are called vertebrae. The discs between the vertebrae help absorb shock. Muscles and ligaments hold your spine and discs together.
What can set off back pain?
- Acute (sudden) injury like during sports, home improvement projects, or at work.
- Acute (sudden) injury from a fall, twist, or impact.
- Sprain or strain of the muscles or ligaments in the back.
- A fracture or dislocation of the spine.
- A torn or ruptured disc.
- Nerve compression in the lower back.
- Overuse — no specific injury leads to the development of pain, muscle spasms, or stiffness.
- Conditions that weaken the spine like osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
- Spinal deformities like scoliosis.
What can you do to prevent a back injury or strain?
- Watch your posture! The back has three natural curves in it: at the neck, in the middle of the back, and in the lower back.
- Support your back when you sit. Don’t slump forward over your keyboard or workspace.
- Standing for long periods of time? Try to rest one foot on a raised surface. Alternate feet periodically.
- Watch your weight. Excess weight in the front can lead to back pain.
- Get your exercise. Regular exercise not only strengthen muscles but it helps increase flexibility and balance.
- Lift properly. Plan your lift, and get help if the object is too heavy or too awkward. Squat — don’t bend over — and lift with your legs, not your back.