Low Back Pain is one of the most common reasons why patients see our orthopaedic doctor in Palm Beach County. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “about 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. In a large survey, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months”1. The statistics show how common a problem LBP is.
We have divided LBP into 3 categories: acute pain (which is usually a result of an accident, injury, etc., and lasts for a few days to a few weeks), subacute pain (4-12 weeks), and chronic pain (over 12 weeks). The biggest problem is chronic pain. About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain have developed chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms at one year2. Depending on its severity, it can effectively make the individual’s life a nightmare. Imagine not being able to walk, drive, or do other basic, everyday activities that we normally don’t give a second thought to. Some patients report pain so intense that it affects literally every aspect of their lives. Despite its name, though, Low Back Pain doesn’t only affect the back area. It often radiates to the lower part of the body: buttocks, legs, and feet. LBP can be treated in many ways. It usually reacts well to conservative (non-operative) treatment; unfortunately, in some cases, surgery may be a necessity.
Is there a way LBP can be prevented? What lifestyle changes can significantly decrease the risk of developing this burdensome condition?
1. The causes of LBP
In order to be able to discuss prevention, first we need to take a look at different factors that can either cause or trigger the Low Back Pain. In can be the result of many things, including:
- Orthopedic conditions, such as spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, lumbar stenosis, compression fractures, sagittal malalignment, and – rarely – infections, tumors, or inflammatory conditions
- Mechanical factors, e.g., sprains and strains, intervertebral disc degeneration, herniated or ruptured discs, spinal stenosis, injuries, etc.
- Other underlying conditions, such as infections, tumors, kidney stones, etc.
Other factors (many of which are associated with the lifestyle we live) that can contribute to Low Back Pain are:
- Sedentary lifestyle – if a person tends to spend most of their time in a sitting position, their risk of developing LBP increases. It especially applies to those who spend 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week at their desks.
- Age – LBP tends to occur between ages 30-50. This is due to a decrease in bone strength and flexibility, as well as the loss of fluid and flexibility within the intervertebral discs in the spine, which progresses with time.
- Lack of exercise – individuals who don’t take the time to exercise regularly are more prone to developing LBP. Weak muscles don’t support the spine in the way they should, and so the back is more vulnerable to injury.
- Overweight and obesity – a lot of additional weight puts a lot of burden and pressure on the spine, which can cause a lot of pain, especially in the lower back area
- Work conditions – there are certain work-related factors that can contribute to LBP. They include spending a lot of time is one position (e.g. in a car, at a desk or cash register), lifting heavy objects, and other activities that overburden the spine.
Low Back Pain – Prevention
LBP that results from ‘improper body mechanics’ can typically be avoided if we take proper preventive measures. Here are just some of the things we can do to significantly decrease the risk of LBP:
- Avoid movements that jolt or strain the back
- Maintain correct posture
- Lift objects properly (without bending the back like a cashew, but instead using the strength of the legs)
- Use ergonomically designed furniture and equipment (proper height desk, desk chair, car seat)
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Always stretch before working out to warm up your muscles and avoid injury
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Use proper athletic gear
- Quit smoking (Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can contribute to spinal disc degeneration. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis and impedes healing. Coughing due to heavy smoking also may cause back pain3)
If you are experiencing pain in your back, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our orthopedic doctor in Palm Beach County – the sooner you contact the doctor, the sooner you can start treatment and get pain relief.
Orthopedic surgeon in Palm Beach County – Palm Beach Orthopedic Institute
Our center is known for its team of professional and experienced orthopedic specialists, including some of the best podiatrists in Palm Beach County. Here at Palm Beach Orthopedic Institute, our professional team of orthopedic surgeons will do all they can to get you up and running again. For more information about our facility, visit our website or contact us today. We are looking forward to seeing you soon!