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Are You Putting Your Spine at Risk?

September 01, 2021 Posted in: Orthopedics

Posture plays an important role in the lifelong health of your spine. Most people spend hours a day sitting at a desk, catching up on their favorite TV show, or looking through the latest updates on their phone. Over time, these activities contribute to evolved habits that force the spine and muscles to adjust in unnatural, unhealthy ways. 

The risk factors for chronic back pain can be as simple as maintaining unhealthy posture, poor exercise habits, smoking, or a person’s age. Other factors may include traumatic injury, depression, a labor intensive job, or progressive degenerative structural changes. Although some causes are more preventable than others, you can take the steps to identify the sources of your back pain and work to cut down on any undue burden placed on your spine. 

Get to the root of your back pain

Many sedentary or technology-involved activities require us to operate with our head down and arms forward, triggering a tightness and shortening in the muscles in the front of our bodies. This causes the muscles and ligaments in the back to compensate by overstretching and elongating. Overworking these parts of the body means that your weight is no longer supported by the skeleton as designed, and the unnecessary strain caused by poor posture can lead to arthritis, back strain, disc herniation and other orthopedic issues. 

Another factor that may contribute to lower back pain (LBP) is weight. Although the conclusions on the influence of obesity tend to be focused on the biomechanical effects that lead to excessive loading and degeneration of the lumbar spine, evidence suggests that systemic inflammation related to obesity may be an important contributor to LBP. Other research shows that after four years, patients with a high body mass index realized less clinical benefit from treatment of lumbar disc herniation compared to non-obese patients. 

Similarly, a decrease in bone density, or osteoporosis, contributes to chronic back pain. Although not painful in and of itself, the greatest risk associated with this medical condition is for a compression fracture of the vertebrae that triggers progressive loss of spinal alignment and postural deformities. Once the muscles, nerves and ligaments are affected, osteoporosis becomes painful. 

If you suffer from back pain, the first step to improvement is seeking out a physical therapist for an assessment of your back’s health. Not all people have the same needs nor start at the same place. After taking time to learn proper body mechanics and incorporating them into your daily routine, you reduce the regular strain consistently placed on your back. Small steps such as understanding what it means to have a strong core and exercises related to strengthening this area help minimize the burden placed on your back. 

For more information on rehabilitation services, call (423) 495-7466.

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