Spine 101: Risk Factors for Spinal Pain

Spine 101: Risk Factors for Spinal Pain

There are a number of things that increase our risk of developing neck and back pain. Some of these are out of control (such as some work environment risk factors), but others are. Knowing what these are may help you adopt techniques or lifestyle habits that reduce your risk.

Some of the risk factors are listed below.

Poor Body Mechanics: Incorrect body mechanics when performing repetitive lifting or positioning increases the stress on one or more structures in the spine, eventually causing irritation in these structures. Flexing the spine, holding the weight away from the body, or twisting the spine all increase intra-discal pressure causing it to bulge backward. Eventually, this causes irritation and pain.

Sustained or Poor Posture: prolonged postures (>15 minutes) without changing position can cause pain and inflammation due to the constant loading.

Stressful Working and Living Habits: Forceful exertions may result when a load shifts suddenly while lifting, or is heavier than anticipated. As the weight increases so too do the forces involved. Baby boomers are sometimes referred to as the “sandwich generation. The population is ageing resulting in an increased number of people requiring physical assistance. They are increasingly being required to look after ageing parents living at home. This reduces the time available for stress-reducing hobbies and exercise.

At the same time cutbacks in the healthcare sector results in fewer caregivers to provide for an increasing number of clients.

Changes in business practices, such as downsizing places additional stresses on the worker.

Technology has resulted in increased convenience and efficiency. The cost associated with this is work that is increasingly repetitive in nature. Examples of this can be found in office workers who until a few years ago would share an office printer. This required them to get up from their desk to retrieve the printed material. Technology has reduced the cost of printers such that it is not unusual for each person to have their own printer within easy reach. They are now able to sit uninterrupted for hours at a time.

Loss of Flexibility: Individuals with poor flexibility are more likely to be injured when an external load is applied to the spine. Without full movement the spine is unable to accommodate the strain effectively.

Loss of Physical Fitness: Poorly conditioned individuals fatigue more quickly making them less able to accommodate stress. In addition they do not recover as quickly from the injury.

If you have questions about how to treat or prevent neck or back pain talk to one of the therapists at Bridge Physiotherapy and Massage.

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