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Factors that can exacerbate back pain

There are millions of people in the U.S. who experience regular, chronic back pain. For some people, the pain is manageable. For others, however, the pain is so extreme and constant that it is disabling. People in the latter category can find it all but impossible to find relief and perform day-to-day functions.

Unfortunately, there are things we do every day that can make back problems even worse. In some cases, avoiding certain environments, behaviors and habits can help to ease some of the pain that comes with a back injury. In this post, we will explore some common -- and potentially surprising -- factors that can worsen back pain and make it difficult to cope with or recover from a back injury.

  • Being overweight: Studies suggest the more weight a person is carrying, the more a back can be injured because of the stress being put on back muscles and discs.
  • Wearing certain apparel: What we wear can seriously affect back pain. For instance, high heels can change a person's posture and cause strain in the lower back. A heavy purse, bag or backpack can also cause pain whether a person is holding it or lifting it over and over all day.
  • Staying seated: Research has shown that people who sit for long periods of time can be doing some serious damage to their backs because of the force being put on the lower back.
  • Lifting heavy things: People who do a lot of lifting are putting a lot of wear and tear on the back, which can be damaging. It can be even more damaging if a person is not using the proper lifting techniques.
  • Sleeping: Rest is crucial to health and well-being, but if a bed is too soft or too firm, that rest may actually be causing or exacerbating back problems.

Avoiding or minimizing these factors may help people feel better and prevent an injury. Unfortunately for many people who are already suffering with disabling back pain, however, more dramatic changes and treatments are necessary. This could include surgery, ongoing therapy, medication and significant lifestyle adjustments. For many of these people, disability benefits may be available to help cover the cost of medical care.

Source: ABC News, "Common Reasons for That Achin' Back," Kim Carollo, Jan. 30, 2012

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