Back Pain


Back Pain Risk Factors

Anyone with a back can develop back pain, but there are certain known risk factors which make certain people more likely to develop back pain.


It's just a fact of life that ailments in general—including back problems--simply become more common with age. Discs, muscles and ligaments all degenerate as part of the aging process, making back pain more likely as we age. For those who suffer from back pain, first attacks usually occur between the ages of 30 and 40 and continue from there.


No, those Twinkies are not the cause of your back pain. At least not directly. But diet does play an indirect role in back pain. Obesity caused by poor diet and inactivity puts an enormous strain on the back. Obesity is, in turn, a high risk factor for back pain.


Some experts claim there is a strong correlation between back pain and hydration. Water is essential to the health of your muscles and joints. You're more prone to pain, stress and injury when your muscles, joints and ligaments don't have the water they need to function correctly. For this reason (and many others) be sure to keep your body—and back—properly hydrated by drinking about eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day.


Some causes of back pain, such as diseases involving the discs, may have a genetic component. Although such diseases are relatively rare, there are some forms of back pain which may simply be “in the genes.”


Back pain is more common among inactive, unfit people. Back muscles are like any other muscles: when they're not used, they deteriorate and get weak. And when they're weak, they're not be able to support the back properly and they're more likely to tear and strain.


If your job is moving furniture, you're at a higher risk for developing back pain than, say, someone who hands out coupons for two-for-one hot-dogs at the ballpark. Certain occupations—particularly those with heavy lifting, pushing, pulling or otherwise working the back—carry more risks than others. Of course, desk jobs (see risk factor “inactivity”) carry their own sorts of risks which can be compounded by bad habits, like poor posture.


Surprisingly, race can be a factor in back problems. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, African American women, for example, are two to three times more likely than white women to develop spondylolisthesis, a condition in which one vertebra slips over another.


This is perhaps one of the most surprising risk factors of all when it comes to back pain. (And no, that pack of smokes isn't so heavy that it's causing untold damage to your spine.)  Smoking may contribute to back pain for several reasons. Smoking blocks your body's ability to deliver nutrients to the discs of the lower back: smokers have lower levels of oxygen in their spines, prolonging the healing process in torn ligaments or herniated discs. Repeated coughing due to heavy smoking can also cause back pain. 

What's the best way to prevent back pain? Click Next to find out.

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