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How to Prevent Lower Back Pain and Maintain a Healthier Back
This entry was posted on October 19, 2009.
It has been argued that almost everyone at some point in their life will experience lower back pain. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. This pain can vary from being mild to severe. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. However, if it does happen, lower back pain can make everyday activities seem tedious and difficult to do. For some cases back pain resolves on its own within a few weeks naturally. But if back pain becomes too severe, treatment can result in having to use medications, physical medicine, and sometimes even surgery in order to alleviate pain and correct the problem. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent back pain from occurring, and sometimes it comes down to having an ergonomically correct office chair.
Common causes of low back pain include lumbar strain, nerve irritation, lumbar radiculopathy, bony encroachment, and conditions of the bone and joints. Lumbar strain is the most common form of low back pain and typically occurs because of overuse, improper use, or trauma. The condition is characterized by localized discomfort in the low back are with onset after an event that mechanically stressed the lumbar issues. The nerves of the lumbar spine can be irritated by mechanical impingement or disease anywhere from their roots at the spinal cord to the skin surface. Lumbar radiculopathy is nerve irritation that is caused by damage to the discs between the vertebrae. Damage occurs because of degeneration of the outer ring of the disc. Bony encroachment includes any condition that results in movement or growth of the vertebrae of the lumbar spine can limit the space for the adjacent spinal cord and nerves. Bone and joint conditions that lead to low back pain include those existing from birth, those that result from wear and tear or injury, and those that are from inflammation of the joints.
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics or other non traumatic causes is often preventable. A combination of exercises that don’t jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly can help prevent injuries. Most people spend up to 10 hours a day sitting in an office chair and most sit in a chair that was bought because it was cheap and seemingly durable. The best choice for an office chair is one that is ergonomically correct, meaning a chair that is designed to fit the individual, complete with adjustable arms, an adjustable seat, can tilt forward and back, and provides lumbar support. Ergonomic chairs are made with the idea that one chair does not fit everyone and that the users’ body dimensions must be used when selecting a chair so that it does not strain one part of the body while fitting the other. Because the lumbar spine has an inward curve, sitting for long periods of time without support for this curve tends to lead to slouching and strains the structures in the lower spine.
There are many simple ways to get a healthier back. Following any period of prolonged inactivity, begin a program of regular low-impact exercises such as speed walking, swimming, yoga, etc. Do not try to lift objects that are too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Make sure not to slouch when standing or sitting. Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back and switch sitting positions often. Periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. With these simple tips in mind, you will be well on your way to a healthier back, less pain, and happier living.