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Dr. Claudia Ng - 5 Common Causes of Low Back Pain Wednesday, June 19, 2013

5 Common Causes of Low Back Pain

Low back pain has become a common physical ailment that affects everyone. Eighty percent of general population suffers from lower back pain at some point of their lives, and one out of 8 is suffering low back pain at any given time, with highest prevalence among females and those aged 40-801.

Lifestyle factors are major contributors that lead to low back pain.

1. Long periods of sitting - modern working style requires sitting on a desk. But sitting causes low back curvature to be straightened and increases pressure on the disc.   In the long term this can lead to early degenerative disc disease.

2. Overweight - The upper body weight alone increases loading on all the spinal joints! Impact on low back pain is prevalent especially to those with excessive abdominal weight, as it may increase the lower back curvature which changes the normal mechanics of movements. Think about the increased impact from just walking or running, or picking up something - every movement puts the back at a higher risk of injuries.  More on Overweight and Low Back Pain and find out if you are overweight.

3. Poor posture - low back pain can be caused by weak core muscles, which comprise of a group of muscles that provide stability of our trunk. People with poor posture are more likely to experience this. Imagine if the trunk is not properly stabilized when performing any movements, the body will compensate with other muscles and sprain and strain injuries will be prone to occur.  Examine your postural habits in Good and Bad postures.

4. Smoking - Smoking causes constriction of capillaries and impedes blood flow into the spinal discs. That means reduced nourishment flows into these discs and any minor tears could take longer time to heal. As a result the discs will degenerate at a faster rate, contributing to low back pain.

5. Lack of exercise - Our musculoskeletal system is designed for motion. It thrives on movements. As circulation is increased, blood is pumped through the muscles and joints which bring in nutrients and flush away toxins. The nerves also get activated which makes our body "smarter" in carrying out activities.   Lack of exercises results in poor body awareness which often lead to unexpected falls or injuries.  It's not as hard to do exercises as you think - learn exercises you can easily do at home.

If you are not yet feeling low back pain at the moment, lucky you. Now, you know how to avoid getting into this unnecessary burden.

A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain, Hoy D,et al, Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Jun;64(6):2028-37.


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