Back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems and can affect a huge number of people. Read on to find out ten interesting facts that you never knew about back pain.
1. It’s estimated that 80% of us will suffer from back pain at some point in our lives. That’s a huge eight out of ten of us (Freburger et al, 2009). Back care and health is a big problem.
2. “Sciatica” is often considered to be a diagnosis in its own right. It isn’t. “Sciatica” is simply a catch all term to describe nerve irritation in either one or both legs. This can be in the form of pain, numbness and paraesthesia. The diagnosis comes by determining exactly what’s causing this nerve irritation in the first place.
3. Wearing high heels can aggravate lower back pain as it pushes your pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt, in turn increasing the amount of curve or lordosis in your lumbar spine, increasing loading and compression. If you find that your back pain starts or increases when wearing high heels it might be time to switch to flats.
4. Movement is one of the best things you can do to maintain back health. If you sit at a desk all day and are sedentary when you get home, make sure that you get up and move as frequently as possible. Aim to get your back moving by stretching your back, changing position, walking and doing any other exercise to keep your back mobile.
5. We’re often told that flexion is bad or harmful for our backs. Certainly, in the early stages of a disc bulge sustained lumbar flexion is best avoided. However, once things are feeling significantly improved, gentle lumbar flexion can and should be initiated. Your back is designed to go into flexion – just be sure to not load or lift anything heavy with a flexed spine.
6. If your thoracic spine is stiff this can increase the chances of developing lower back pain as this will increase the load placed on the lumbar spine below it.
7. MRI scans will often detect changes in your spine such as disc bulges, spondylosis or spondylolisthesis. Frequently, people can be asymptomatic and feel absolutely no pain at all. Just because a MRI picks something up doesn’t mean that it’s always the cause of your back pain (Brinjiki et al, 2015).
8. If you smoke you’re more likely to develop lower back pain. Smoking has also been found to increase dehydration of intervertebral discs (Nomoto et al, 2006; Vo et al, 2011).
9. Your spinal discs lose water as you get older meaning that they become a little thinner. This explains that as we age we often become a little shorter as our discs lose height (Urban et al, 2007).
10. Spinal discs imbibe or take on increased water while you sleep at night. This is often why you’re taller in the morning compared to when you go to bed – this can be a change of up to 1cm (Urban et al, 2007).