Back Pain Causes and Prevention


Click here to read About Your Back brochure

About Your Back

  • Your spine consists of 24 interlocking bones with flexible joints called vertebrae
  • Shock absorbing discs lie in between each pair of vertebrae
  • A healthy spine is arranged in three natural curves that form an S-shape

These natural curves keep your body balanced and support you when you move.  The curves also distribute your weight evenly throughout your spine, making back injuries less likely.

Ways to Prevent Back Pain

  • Strengthen your back with exercise. Also, regular physical activity can help ease inflammation and muscle tension.
  • Stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight. Extra pounds, especially in your midsection, can make back pain worse by shifting your center of gravity and putting strain on your lower back.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking restricts the flow of nutrient-containing blood to spinal discs, so smokers are especially vulnerable to back pain.
  • Sleeping position. Sleeping on your side with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest or if you sleep on your back, put one pillow under your knees and another under your lower back.
  • Pay attention to your posture. The best chair for preventing back pain is one with a straight back or low-back support. Keep your knees a bit higher than your hips while seated. Prop your feet on a stool if you need to.
  • Be careful how you lift. Bend your knees and squat and hold the object close to your body as you stand up.
  • Avoid high heels. They can shift your center of gravity and strain your lower back. Stick to a one-inch heel. If you want to go higher, save for special occasions.
  • Stash the skinny jeans. Clothing so tight that it interferes with bending, sitting, or walking can aggravate back pain.
  • Lighten your wallet. Sitting on an overstuffed wallet may cause discomfort and back pain. While driving, take your wallet out of your back pocket.
  • Pick the right handbag or briefcase. Buy a bag or briefcase with a strap that’s long enough to reach over your head. Having the strap on the opposite shoulder of the bag distributes the weight more evenly.

Back pain affects 80% of all people in the United States at some time in their lives.

Strengthening your back with exercise and practicing good body mechanics can help prevent back pain, but you may still experience it.

Causes of back pain include:

  • disc degeneration – discs located between the vertebrae break and lose their cushioning ability
  • ruptured discs, also called herniated discs
  • the wearing down of the large joints that connect each vertebrae to another
  • injuries that result in sprains, torn ligaments and fractures
  • fractures resulting from osteoporosis
  • slipped vertebrae
  • spinal stenosis, a narrowing that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves

You can treat many forms of back pain with rest or exercise, but what’s most important is to know when to seek treatment.

You need to see a neurosurgeon if you have back pain:

  • with numbness, muscle weakness and tingling
  • that is severe and doesn’t improve with medications and rest
  • after a fall or an injury

A non-operative orthopedic specialist can prescribe medication, injections and physical therapy to alleviate pain. But some back pain will need surgery to provide relief. Our experienced and highly skilled neurosurgeons can determine what is best for you and discuss your options.

If surgery is the best option, United Regional has neurosurgeons using advanced surgical techniques and technology to your treat back pain. Click here to find a neurosurgeon.