While your daily habits may not be a pain in the neck, they could be the cause of the pain in your back.
“When you are younger, you may not notice that some of the things you’re doing are actually setting the stage for future issues,” says Dr. Gregory Nystrom, a chiropractor at Aurora BayCare Health Center in Green Bay, Wis. “But as we age, the disks between vertebrae in the spine can deteriorate, and suddenly those daily habits are causing a prominent pain that we never noticed before.”
Nystrom discusses some of those habits that may be the root of your back pain:
It’s no secret that many Americans are sitting more now than ever before. Whether you’re at home, at work or commuting, bad sitting posture can lead to a host of issues, including back pain. When sitting, be sure to keep your spine in a neutral position to avoid undue stress on your vertebrae and disks. To do this, make sure your computer monitor is eye-level, your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and your back is not rounded or hunched. If it helps, try a lumbar support or even a rolled-up towel behind your lower back. In addition, remember to get up and walk every 10-20 minutes.
Brushing your teeth or shaving
It’s common for people to bend over the sink when brushing their teeth or shaving their face, but how you’re bending could be the issue.
“Try to bend at the hip, keeping your back straight, rather than bending with your shoulders hunched forward,” says Dr. Nystrom. “Bending where your upper back is rounded puts excessive stress on your spinal disks.”
Doing laundry and grocery shopping
In an effort to make as few trips as possible, you’re probably guilty of loading as much laundry into the basket and carrying as many grocery bags as humanly possible.
“It’s nothing new, but it is important to remember to bend with your knees to pick something up off the ground,” Dr. Nystrom says. “What you may not know, though, is when carrying grocery bags or such, if the weight is not distributed evenly from arm to arm, it can force your spine to carry itself in unnatural positions.”
Nystrom recommends carrying lighter loads, even if it means making a few extra trips from your car to your house or apartment. Lighter loads and walking with a straight back will keep your spine from bending at awkward angles, preventing spinal pain.
You know smoking is bad for your lungs, but did you know it’s bad for your back, too? One study found there was “a significant association between back pain and smoking,” and even being exposed to secondhand smoke can cause back pain. While the exact reason for the cause is unknown, if you are a smoker or are exposed to cigarette smoke and suffer from back pain, this is just another reason to avoid the pollutant.
If you wake up with an aching back, chances are your sleeping position is to blame. If you sleep on your stomach, be sure to put a pillow beneath your lower stomach to help alleviate pressure on your lower back. Also, if you sleep on your back, try sleeping with a pillow beneath your knees to help keep your spine in neutral position.
Consuming energy drinks
A study of 194,095 people found that drinking energy drinks could be linked to the occurrence of kidney stones, according to the Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology. What’s a common symptom of kidney stones? You guessed it – back pain.
Time to ditch those caffeine-loaded beverages – for a multitude of reasons – for water or another hydrating beverage, which help in the prevention of kidney stones.
If you have chronic and persistent back pain, talk to your doctor about available treatment options, including:
Injections for pain