Who Has the Highest Risk for Back Pain?
By Eric Requa, DO, Sports Medicine Specialist – Virtua Medical Group
Though just about everyone can experience it, there are a number of risk factors that can lead to back pain. Here are some of the most common causes:
Age: Back pain is most common after age 30, though parents should monitor the weight of their children’s backpacks, which when overloaded, can lead to back pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends a child’s backpack weigh no more than 15 to 20 percent of his or her body weight.) For adults, gradual wear and tear on the spine may cause disk degeneration or spinal stenosis that lead to neck and back pain.
Lack of exercise: Weak back and abdominal muscles cannot properly support the spine. It’s better to maintain a daily routine of moderate physical activity rather than trying to pack it all into your weekend. In particular, low-impact activities can help you maintain a healthy back. Talk with your doctor when considering a new exercise regimen or significantly changing your current routine.
Weight: Not surprisingly, carrying excess weight puts additional strain on your back.
Smoking: Since smoking reduces blood flow to the lower back, it can prevent disks in your back from receiving enough nutrients. Smoking also slows the healing process following an injury.
Work factors: Of course, a job that requires lifting or pushing heavy objects—or subjects your spine to twisting—can lead to back pain. But so can office jobs, especially if you have poor posture while sitting at your desk or using a chair with inadequate back support.
Updated August 17, 2020