Back pain risk factors
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Risk factors for back pain include poor posture, obesity, pregnancy, cancer, weight lifting, psychological stress, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, autoimmune disease, arthritis and trauma.
- The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 40. Back pain becomes more common with age.
- Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. “Weekend warriors”—people who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all week—are more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise is good for the discs that cushion the vertebrae, the individual bones that make up the spine.
- A diet high in calories and fat, combined with an inactive lifestyle, can lead to obesity, which can put stress on the back.
- Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, have a genetic component.
- Race can be a factor in back problems. African American women, for example, are two to three times more likely than white women to develop spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a vertebra of the lumbar spine slips out of place.
- Many diseases can cause or contribute to back pain. These include various forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers elsewhere in the body that may spread to the spine.
- Smokers are more likely to experience back pain than non-smokers.
- A few studies suggest that psychosocial factors such as on-the-job stress and dysfunctional family relationships may correlate more closely with back pain than structural abnormalities revealed in x-rays and other medical imaging scans.
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