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Most people will experience lower back pain at least once during their lives. Back pain is one of the most common complaints people have and comes in many forms, from lower back pain, middle back pain, or upper back pain to low back pain with sciatica.

Causes

Some of the causes of back pain include;

  • Repeated heavy lifting
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Nerve and muscular problems
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Arthritis
  • Slouching in chairs
  • Twisting
  • Over-stretching
  • Driving in a hunched position or driving for long periods without taking a break
  • Overuse of the muscles, usually due to sport or repetitive movements

Risk factors

Risk factors that can increase your chances of developing back pain include;

  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Stress

Symptoms

Symptoms of back pain may include;

  • Sharp, localized pain in the upper back or lower back
  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Limited flexibility or range of motion of the back
  • Chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods
  • Back pain that radiates from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes
  • Inability to stand straight without having severe muscle spasms in the low back

Treatment

The treatment for back pain will vary depending on how long you have had the pain and how severe it is. If you have back pain for a long period of time i.e. over six weeks, refer to your doctor for appropriate treatment. Short term back pain i.e. less than six weeks can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers and home treatments such as;

  • Heat e.g. a hot bath or a hot water bottle placed on the affected area may help ease the pain
  • Changing your sleeping position can take some of the strain off your back and ease the pain
  • Relaxation can help relieve stress and help ease back pain
  • Regular exercise and being active should will help keep your back strong and healthy

Prevention

Common ways of preventing back ache include;

  • Using the proper sitting and standing posture
  • Losing weight
  • Wearing flat shoes rather than heels
  • Managing stress
  • Staying active
  • Lifting and picking up items properly

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