back pain causes

Finding the Source: 7 of the Most Common Causes of Back Pain

How long have you had your mattress? Be honest…

If you can’t remember the last time you got a new mattress, it’s time to hit the furniture store. 

Why? Because sleeping on an old mattress is killer on your back.

But a bad mattress isn’t the only thing that can put your back in a bad mood. Lots of other lifestyle factors and medical issues cause back pain. And it’s important to know those causes so you can do your best to prevent back injuries in the future.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 7 of the most common back pain causes and what you can do to prevent them.

Common Back Pain Causes

There are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible to back problems. People who are overweight are more at risk. And if you’re not moving around much, you’re more likely to injure your back. 

If you work in a job that requires heavy lifting or long periods of standing on your feet, you’re more likely to have spine pain. And as you age, you might develop back pain because of wear and tear on your muscles and spine.

Knowing your risk factors can help you prevent back injuries. But no matter how much you work to prevent them, there’s still a chance you’ll experience problems at some point during your life. Now let’s look at the 7 most common causes of back injuries. 

1. Slouching

The way you hold up your body affects back health. Working long hours at a desk without taking a break can cause you back pain. And if you do this over a lifetime, it can compound into more serious issues like herniated discs and arthritis.

Also, bending your neck forward too much can make your back to hurt. This is a problem called text neck. And it’s a serious issue affecting many smartphone users today. 

To prevent this, pay special attention to your posture. Take breaks from sitting and walk around. And put your smartphone away before your neck gets tired.

2. Overuse

Sometimes, your back hurts because of a good, old-fashioned muscle injury. Muscle pulls and strains come about most often because of overuse. 

It’s more likely to happen when you do exercises that you aren’t used to. Like when you haven’t played basketball in 10 years and you decide to join a game at the gym. The bending, reaching, and twisting can cause you to injure yourself. 

But even seasoned athletes can overdo it and strain the muscles in their backs. Be aware of how your back feels while you’re exercising. Stop at the first sign of back pain to prevent further injury.

3. A Bad Mattress

We already mentioned this briefly, but let’s dive into your bedroom routine. You should replace your mattress at least every 10 years. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

Every person sleeps differently on their mattress. And every mattress wears differently. If you’re already having back problems, consider getting a new mattress sooner rather than later.

And consider upgrading your pillows too. Pillows bear the responsibility of holding up your head and keeping your neck in alignment. Old, flat pillows are just as likely to cause back problems as your mattress.

4. Arthritis

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. And lumbar arthritis happens when you develop osteoarthritis in your back. Over time, the cartilage in the joints wears down.

Without that cartilage, you lose range of motion, making the movement more painful. And it puts more stress on your nerves.

Prevent arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. Also, eat a diet rich in foods that fight back pain.  

5. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis develops when our bones lose minerals and weaken over time. The pain isn’t caused by the disease itself. It’s caused by tiny fractures in the bones of the spine that happen because the bones are so weak.

These fractures occur suddenly. You’ll notice a new pain in your spine because of a certain movement, even from a cough or sneeze. 

Unfortunately, many people (women especially) are prone to developing osteoporosis. But preventative measures like eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D are helpful. And weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and prevent or prolong osteoporosis development.

6. Disc Problems

Each vertebra is separated from its neighbors by spongy discs. These discs are little fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion for the bones around them. As you age, or if you suffer a spinal injury, these discs can get injured too. 

A bulging disc happens when the disc slips out of place and sticks out further on one side of the spine. This puts pressure on the nerves around the disc. 

A ruptured disc occurs when aging or trauma causes the tear, releasing the fluid inside. This means the disc won’t provide as much cushion to the bones as it should. And that also means more pressure on the nerves in the area. 

Prevent disc problems by regularly stretching your back. Also, using proper lifting techniques helps. And, of course, regular exercise keeps the back strong enough to shield the discs from injury.

7. Sciatica 

Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the lower back down through your hips and thighs, all the way to your feet. Sciatica is when that nerve becomes pinched or inflamed.

This is usually caused by a bulging disc as we mentioned before. But it can also come from bone spurs or hip and back injuries.

Sciatica pain starts in the lower back and can spread down into the legs and feet. It may be sharp or dull, depending on how much pressure is on the nerve. 

Prevent sciatica by doing the same things you’d do to prevent a bulging or ruptured disc, as these are the most common causes of sciatica. 

Treat Back Pain ASAP

Many people experience back pain at some point in their lives. These back pain causes are some of the most common. You can prevent these issues by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping good posture, and exercising.

But remember, it’s not normal to have back pain. If you do suffer from back problems, get it looked at asap. It might be a sign of something worse. 

At Executive Spine Surgery, we take a multidisciplinary approach to give you the best possible treatment for back pain. Visit our website to book your appointment online to see Dr. Spivak.

Don’t live with back pain anymore. Get it treated now!

how to tell if you have scoliosis

How to Tell If You Have Scoliosis on Your Own

Do you have lower back pain like there’s no tomorrow?

If the answer is yes, you might have scoliosis. That’s right – adults have scoliosis too.

And 80% of the time, doctors don’t actually know what causes scoliosis. 3 out of the 4 types usually make themselves known between infancy and young adult age.

Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by neuromuscular disorders. And Idiopathic scoliosis’ cause is unknown.

Congenital scoliosis develops inside the womb although often times it isn’t diagnosed until children are older. 

Their vertebrae become more and more curved over time due to tiny bones not developing properly to begin with.

But you’re a functioning adult! Could scoliosis have been hiding in your vertebrae all this time?

Yes. Or, you might have degenerative scoliosis, which, unfortunately, is a result of aging as your bones and your spine wear out over time.

Don’t fret – there are solutions and treatment that may be able to help. But first, find how to tell if you have scoliosis symptoms.

Here’s How to Tell If You Have Scoliosis

Do you recognize any of these signs? Pinpoint any symptoms you have and perform a couple of easy at-home tests to determine if you might have scoliosis pain.

1. You Have Back Pain 

Do you have worsening pain in your lower back that is beginning to interfere with your activities? Or is it chronic? Has it already taken over your life to the point of preventing you from performing simple tasks in your everyday life?

Do you experience numbness any numbness in your legs? Do you experience cramping or shooting pain in your legs or other parts if your body? Those muscles could be straining to overcompensate for the bones and muscles that are causing you pain in the first place.

Are you unusually tired or exhausted? Are you unable to perform physical activities that you could do before?

2. You Have Uneven Shoulders, Hips, or Legs

Do you see a difference when you look in the mirror? Are you clothes starting to hang onto one side or do your shirts tend to fall off one shoulder?

What about your pants? Does one leg have a shorter break in the material? Do you find yourself limping around, even slightly? 

Grab a friend and perform the “Adam’s Bend Test” in order to determine if your potential scoliosis is functional or structural. Ask your friend to also take a look at your shoulders, hips, and the way your clothes fall to determine if they notice any interruption in your body’s symmetry.

3. You’ve Been Experiencing Shortness of Breath

If your scoliosis has reached a certain curvature, it may be affecting your lung function, especially during increased physical activity.

This can also cause chest pain as your lungs are not able to perform at their fullest potential. Eventually, this could lead to serious breathing problems, and if not treated, even heart failure.

4. Your Eyes and Ears Are Different

Stand sideways in a mirror. Get someone to look and see if your ears seem to be ahead of your shoulders? If you’re alone at the moment, take a photo on a timer.

What about your eyes? If you stand in front of a mirror, are the center of your eyes in line with the center of your hips? If they’re tilted at all in any direction, this could be a sign of scoliosis.

Do You Have the Symptoms?

Maybe you do, but that doesn’t tell you everything.

Even if any of these scoliosis symptoms ring true for you, yours could still be minor scoliosis. The sooner you consult with a doctor, the better chance you have of treating your condition.

Most people have a natural slight curve in their spine. But side to side curves that twist the spine are what define scoliosis. 

It’s when those curves keep growing deeper that major issues arise.

Where Do You Go from Here?

Well, if you have any of these symptoms, talk to one of our doctors and find out if you’re a candidate for treatment. 

And take a breather. Often times, scoliosis can be easily treated with lifestyle changes. For example, exercise or a back brace can help the spine realign itself.

Some exercises that may help are: 

  • Bend and stretch in the same direction as your curve
  • Hang from any bar as for as long as you can, and do it again.
  • Crunches and reverse crunches
  • Squats
  • Lay with a rolled pillow behind your neck and one under your back

Exercise is not necessarily a cure on its own so make sure you check with your doctor first.

Act Before It Gets Worse

Many patients do need surgery to correct their spines. And that’s why minimally invasive surgery is both the safest and most effective option.

And you’ve got nothing to lose! Get a free MRI review to see if you are a candidate for treatment. You’ll be one step closer to getting rid of your scoliosis pain.

Diet and Exercise Play a Role in Everything

Even if you do need surgery, diet and exercise can help keep you on the right track towards bettering your health and mobility. To start, some foods that may help fight your back pain are:

  • Olive oil
  • Sweet potato
  • Caffeine
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Berries and nuts

They’ll help fight inflammation and help you on your journey to conquer your scoliosis.

Meeting with the Doc

When you meet with the doctor, he might begin with a test like the “Adam’s Bend Test” in order to asses your spine alignment and to determine if x-rays are necessary.

X-Rays can confirm scoliosis and also detect the gravity of the condition. MRI’s may also be requested for further information and confirmation.

A doctor will want to know medical history, any previous diagnoses, and any and all symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

Be prepared with all of your questions and answers.

Be Objective

In assessing your pain and symptoms, make sure you take your time and stay objective. And for tests you can’t perform yourself, ask a friend or a relative to help determine how to tell if you have scoliosis.

Start eating healthy and do exercises and stretches that will begin to reverse your scoliosis.

Find a doctor you can trust who is certified and uses minimally invasive procedures with operational methods as a last resort.