Almost everyone suffers from back pain at some point in their life. Experts estimate that about 80% of Americans feel the stabbing, aching, debilitating effects of spinal trouble, and about 16 million of them end up with chronic pain that lasts for months or years.
At McNulty Spine in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, we see folks who suffer from a broad spectrum of spine conditions, including:
- Spinal stenosis
- Herniated and degenerated discs
- Acute work and sports injuries
These are just a few of the back problems Dr. Patrick McNulty, our double board-certified, award-winning orthopedic surgeon, diagnoses and treats every day. But not all back pain stems from disease or injury — some comes from the bad habits you’ve developed over your lifetime. Here’s a closer look at what you’re doing day in and day out that may be harming your spine.
Sitting around all day
They say that sitting is the new smoking, and that’s not far from the truth. If you sit for hours on end, you put nearly every aspect of your health in danger, including your back. Your body wasn’t designed to sit in a chair all day long, and when you do, it puts a lot of extra stress on the discs between your vertebrae, leading to lower back pain.
Speaking of smoking, if this is one of your habits, it may be making your back pain worse. Smoking narrows your blood vessels, reduces blood flow, inhibits healing, and increases fatigue. And studies show a direct correlation between smoking and back pain.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle
If you don’t move your body and get enough exercise, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your back tighten, weaken, and shorten. So, when you do move, you feel the aches and pain of underused, underdeveloped body parts.
Eating an unhealthy diet
Everyone understands the relationship between diet and weight, but many don’t realize that poor nutrition can harm your back, as well. Everything you eat either helps or harms your body; you’re either feeding your muscles, nerves, and organs, or you’re starving them. A good diet filled with lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables keeps inflammation at bay and promotes cell renewal.
Improper lifting techniques
Whether you lift heavy objects for a living or you only occasionally have to hoist a bulky box, if you do it incorrectly, it can cause either an acute back injury or an ongoing nagging ache.
Proper lifting technique involves your legs more than your back, and you should never twist and lift at the same time.
Sleeping on an old, sagging mattress
If you don’t have good sleep posture during the night, you’ll pay for it in back pain during the day. Your mattress and pillow should keep your spine aligned in a neutral position. Check your bed for any low spots that allow your hips or back to sink down and cause stress on your spine.
Carrying too many pounds
The more you weigh, the more stress you put on your back, as well as all your joints. It may even alter your gait, which in turn may lead to back pain.
When you’re stressed, all your muscles feel the effects, and they contract for long periods of time. The two areas most susceptible to this response are your neck and lower back, which is why chronic stress and back pain often go hand in hand.
How to reduce your back pain
If one or some of these bad habits apply to you, the first step in preventing or reducing your back pain is to make some adjustments — get up and walk around, change your mattress, stop smoking, and buy some sensible shoes. Do whatever it takes to promote your spine’s health and strength.
If your back pain stems from an acute or chronic condition, Dr. McNulty can help. He gets to the source of your back pain and addresses the root cause so you have a better chance of overcoming your spinal issue for good.
During your recovery and rehabilitation, you may benefit from our pain management services, such as epidural injections, spinal cord stimulation, and nerve blocks, to name just a few of the treatments that can bring you relief so you can focus on your physical therapy and healing.
When you’re ready to address your nagging back pain, schedule an appointment at either of our two locations. We’re here to help you kick your bad back habits and live a pain-free life. Call or book online today.