Social Security Disability: What are the Risk Factors for Back Pain?

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10: 00
Written by Joni B. Bailey


Anyone can have back pain, but did you know that there are specific factors that increase your risk?  See if you fit the profile of someone at high risk for back pain that could lead to disability.  

1.  Age

Back pain becomes more common as people get older.  For many people, the first instance of low back pain typically occurs when they are between 30 and 40 years old. 

2.  Fitness level

Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Experts believe it is because weak back and abdominal muscles cannot give the spine the support that it needs.

When it comes to fitness, keeping a regular routine is key.  People who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all week are more likely to suffer painful back injuries than those who incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. Studies have shown that low-impact aerobic exercise (such as walking or hiking) is good for the disks that cushion the vertebrae, the individual bones that make up the spine.

3.  Diet

A diet that is high in calories and fat, combined with an inactive lifestyle, can lead to obesity.  Carrying around all that extra weight puts stress on the back, making back pain more likely.  Here is an online calculator that will return your ideal weight based on your age, sex, and height.

4.  Heredity

Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis that affects the spine) have a genetic component.  If you are experiencing chronic back pain, it is worth doing the research to rule out genetic factors.

5.  Race

Race can also 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 lower spine—also called the lumbar spine—slips out of place.

6.  Other diseases

Many otherwise unrelated 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.

7.  Occupational risk factors

A job that involves heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling, especially when this involves twisting the spine, can easily lead to injury and back pain.  Desk jobs or other sit-down jobs may also lead to pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit in a poor chair.

8.  Cigarette smoking

Although smoking may not directly cause back pain, it increases the risk of developing low back pain and low back pain with sciatica, which is back pain that radiates to the hip and/or leg due to pressure on a nerve.  Smoking can also slow the body's natural healing process, prolonging pain for those who have had back injuries or back surgery.


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