Back pain is very common among adults of all ages, but it doesn’t have to be. Dr. Mark Knaub of Penn State Hershey Medical Center has identified the most frequent causes and types of back pain, and has provided some tips for treating and preventing it. Back pain is often due to soft tissue injuries in the form of muscle, ligament, and tendon strains. These injuries are often caused by activities that include lifting, twisting or bending, and falling. If your back pain occurs after lifting or bending incorrectly, it can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants, though Dr. Knaub recommends participating in physical therapy in order to prevent the pain from reoccurring.
Physical therapy works well to treat back pain and has both immediate and long-term benefits. Along with teaching patients to properly stretch affected muscles for relief, physical therapy also helps to build core muscles that are vital for stabilizing your back and supporting your spine. Building these muscles can help prevent future strains and pains in your back.
To further reduce your risk of back injury, Dr. Knaub recommends exercising regularly with specific emphasis on building core strength, as well as maintaining a healthy weight to prevent excess strain on your back and avoiding tobacco products. Those who have jobs that contain a lot of vibration—for example, truck drivers and operators of heavy machinery—are at a higher risk of experiencing back pain and therefore should be sure to take preventative measures.
Those with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are also more prone to back pain and should work to prevent injury, as it can lead to a cycle that worsens their psychological symptoms. Dr. Knaub noted, “When people have chronic back problems, there is a large psychological component to it. Being depressed causes pain, and being in pain makes you depressed.”
While back pain is exceedingly common—one in every ten people experience at least one instance of severe back pain in their lifetime—it is preventable and treatable. Identifying if you are at a higher risk of suffering a back injury is vital in preventing one from occurring, and simple tips like exercising and strengthening core muscles are an easy way to avoid pain.