Promote a good posture: Having and maintaining a good posture can help to keep back pain at bay. To promote a good posture, try incorporating some simple exercises into your daily routine.
Lower back pain is one of the most common problems among the older generation. However, given the current lifestyle and the hectic work hours where one has to sit at the desk for a long period of time, people in their mid-twenties to early thirties have started complaining of this problem too.
It must be noted that, this kind of soreness can be very debilitating and severely affect your quality of life.
As early as your 20s, your spine suddenly becomes less willing to tolerate the abuse you put it through; sitting for long periods, slouching, lifting, and even exercising can cause damage.
Dr Saurabh Verma, HOD Spine Surgery, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Delhi says, "Disks are intended to absorb shock, but over time, they flatten and dry out. And should they bulge (called herniated or ruptured disks), they may end up poking nearby nerves, causing serious pain and eventually, may result in sciatica, which occurs when a herniated disk presses on the roots of the sciatic nerve that runs down each leg."
"This affects 1 to 2 percent of all people, usually," he added. It has also come to light that women tend to suffer from this problem at an early age as against the men.
Therefore, in order to get an understanding of what triggers back pain in women, symptoms and the possible ways to treat it, we at DNA spoke exclusively to Dr Saurabh Verma, HOD Spine Surgery, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Delhi, who enlightened us about the triggers and listed some very useful tips.
The most common back or neck pain triggers for women are:
- Lifting and carrying
- Bad posture
- Sleeping/ mattress
- Housework/ DIY
- Exercise/ sport/ physical activities
"Housework / DIY and sleeping/ mattresses were more common triggers for women; while men were more likely to point to exercise as the cause of their back or neck pain. For both men and women lifting and carrying was the most common trigger," said Dr Saurabh.
Here are three of the main causes of back pain in young adults, and the symptoms to look out for:
Back Muscle Strain
Back muscle strain is often caused by lifting heavy objects, excessive exercising, sudden movements or twisting into an awkward position. The ligaments and muscles in your back might have stretched or suffered from microscopic tears, thus causing you pain.
It has often been noted that back strains mostly heal on their own with the help of some quality rest time, ice and/or heat application, anti-inflammatory pain medications, as well as gradual and gentle stretching and lower back exercises.
Symptoms of back muscle strain include:
- Difficulty walking or standing up straight without pain
- A pain that is dull and achy
- Localized stiffness or soreness upon being touched
- A pain that does not radiate down your legs, but moves around your lower back area, groin and buttocks.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Lumbar degenerative disc disease can affect individuals as young as 20. When the lumbar discs between your vertebrae begin to break down, the damaged disc can cause painful inflammation and slight instability in the lower back, which brings about muscle spasms and sometimes sciatica. Degenerative disc disease is common and is often successfully treated.
You may be suffering from degenerative disc disease if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Back pain worsened by sitting
- Low-level of constant lower back pain punctuated by episodes of severe pain/muscle spasms - lasting a few days to a few months
-Walking, even running, may feel better than sitting/standing
- Changing positions frequently relieves pain
Lumbar Herniated Disc
A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery disks between the vertebrae that stack up to form your spine. You can have a herniated disk without even knowing it, but sometimes a slipped disk can be really painful. It causes a pain commonly known as Sciatica. Sciatica happens when a nerve root in the lower spine is compressed, causing pain and numbness to travel along the large sciatic nerve that serves the buttocks, legs and feet.
Common symptoms of Sciatica include:
- Pain typically is constant as opposed to flaring up for a few days or weeks and then ceasing.
- Pain is more intense in the leg and foot, rather than the back
- The pain is typically experienced on one side of the buttocks or leg
- Pain is severe after long periods of standing or sitting still but is relieved when walking
- The pain is more of an intense tingling or burning rather than a dull ache
- May be accompanied by weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
Making just a few simple lifestyle changes can have a big impact on our back and neck health. The following are some golden rules for protecting back health and preventing against the key pain triggers.
- Perfect your lifting and carrying technique: To avoid injury, make sure your legs are at least your hips’ width apart with the knees bent. Keep your head and shoulders directly above your waist and keep the weight you are carrying as close to you as possible – avoid twisting. Avoid bending from the waist, which increases the stress on your lower back.
- Choose your bag wisely: Carrying heavy bags around all day can put strain on your back and contribute to pain. Make sure you regularly empty your bag and only pack the things you actually need.
- Take regular breaks: When doing household chores, make sure you vary your activity and try to spend no more than 20-30 minutes on any one thing. It is important to take breaks to avoid being in the same position for too long, as this will help relieve the build-up of tension in your lower back
- Stop the slouch: Relax when sitting into your seat, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. Try to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Recognise the warning signs that it’s time to change your mattress; you wake up feeling stiff or aching, your mattress is misshapen or sagging or you can feel individual springs. If your mattress is over seven years old, you might want to think about buying a new one.
- Warm up: When exercising or playing sport, it may seem obvious, but make sure your muscles are prepared by gradually increasing the intensity of your warm up, to avoid lack of flexibility and injury.
- Promote a good posture: Having and maintaining a good posture can help to keep back pain at bay. To promote a good posture, try incorporating some simple exercises into your daily routine.