Perhaps your back hurts first thing each morning, every time you play golf, or only after you lift something heavy. No matter when back pain causes you misery, it’s important to understand the underlying causes and what can be done to alleviate it so you can get back to doing the things you enjoy.
Common Causes of Back Pain
According to Dr. Saad Khairi, Section Chief of Neurosurgery at Indiana University Methodist Hospital and Volunteer Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine, there is no one specific cause of back pain.
He lists the top three causes of back pain as lack of conditioning, obesity and smoking. “If your truck is rated to tow 5,000 pounds and you consistently try and pull a sled with 10,000 pounds your truck is going to break down. The same thing happens for your back, knees and hips - carrying too much weight leads to accelerated disc degeneration, excessive muscular strain, ligament overload and stretching, and pain,” Dr. Khairi explains. “The pain is your bodies way of telling you that you are asking too much of it.”
Another possible cause of back pain is smoking. Although at first thought, smoking may seem like an odd thing to correlate with back pain, the fact is that nicotine toxins decrease oxygen tension and the bodies ability to heal the constant micro injuries that are occurring throughout our body every day. Some studies show a higher proportion of back pain in smokers and the outcomes of smokers after most spine surgeries are poorer than non-smokers.
Taking Action Against Pain
You don’t have to live with back pain. If you have been experiencing pain for several weeks, and rest and over-the-counter medication is not helping, it’s time to check with your health care provider.
With back pain, exercise and rehabilitation (physical therapy) are critical in stimulating the healing process and minimizing future recurrences. “A regular exercise program of aerobic exercise of 150 minutes per week with focused core strengthening and some back exercises will palliate a large proportion of back pain.” says Dr. Khairi.
Less frequently, surgery may be needed to completely eradicate back pain. IU Health’s nationally ranked neurosurgeons offer minimally invasive surgery options, using the latest technology to help you get rid of your back pain for good. Our expertise includes:
- Bulging and herniated discs
- Spinal tumors
- Degenerative spinal conditions
- Spinal cord injuries