What You Need to Know About Back Pain
Common in many adults, back pain can happen for a number of reasons. Occupation, weight gain, accidents, lifestyle —all of these factors can contribute to back pain. What you may not know is back pain can also be caused by other diagnosis such as a hip issue or core problem.
Here are some things you should know about back pain.
Don’t Ignore the Core
When many people think of the core muscles, they think of mostly the abdomen. However there are many other muscles that make up the core. “The most important core muscles are not ‘beach muscles,’ but the large muscles of your back, buttocks, and sides,” says Alexander Poor, MD, physician at Vincera Institute. “These are the muscles responsible for maintaining posture and keeping you balanced as you move around.” Weakness in these muscles will cause other muscles to compensate, which makes them more susceptible to injury.
Weak core muscles or not keeping the core engaged may actually cause back pain. Practice keeping the core engaged by doing quick core exercises throughout the day. Pull your navel in towards your spine and imagine the sides of your abs being pulled inward. Doing this throughout the day, especially when lifting heavy objects will help strengthen and support the back.
The All-Day Sit
For many people, their lifestyle involves a lot of sitting—in the car on the way to work, in front of the computer at work, relaxing in front of the TV—which is bad for your core and back. Sitting puts more pressure on the spine than lying down or standing up. Try to get up and move around throughout the day and keep the spine straight by holding reading material at eye level.
If you have back pain after sitting for a long time, it might be an indication that you actually have a hip problem. “When there is damage in your hip joint, the seated position orients the bones of your hip so that they pinch the damaged labrum and then applies all of your body weight,” says Dr. Poor.
Preventing Back Pain
A great way to prevent back pain is to get regular exercise and keep the back muscles strong. “Very often, back pain is a result of one muscle taking on too much load in compensation for weakness in other muscles,” says Dr. Poor. “Balanced core muscle strength leads to good posture and proper mechanics, making injury less likely.”
You can also prevent back pain by maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you are overweight—extra weight can cause strain on the back. Implementing good posture and bending your legs to keep your back straight while heavy lifting are also good practices to remember for back pain prevention.
When it Gets Serious
Sometimes, back pain may be an indicator of another problem. “If the back pain is worse with standing, sitting, or lying on one side, this could be an indication of an underlying hip problem,” says Dr. Poor. “If the pain is worse with exertion and is reproducible with certain movements, a core muscle injury is more likely.”
Dr. Poor says you should seek a professional opinion for your back pain if:
- you have any weakness or tingling associated with it
- you have abdominal pain associated with it
- it is still severe after a few days of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications
- it is mild but doesn’t improve after a few weeks
- it is worst with sitting or lying down
For more information on back pain, visit the Vincera Institute. Call (267) 592-3200 to make an appointment or visit their state-of-the-art facility at the Navy Yard.This is a paid partnership between Vincera Institute and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio