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January 31, 2011

Back Pain Monday

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), lower back pain is the leading cause for job-related disability and the second most common neurological pain after headaches. In fact, it is estimated that nearly $50 billion is spent each year by Americans to treat lower back pain.

Lower back pain is most often the result of injury or trauma, caused by overly strained ligaments or muscles, improper lifting technique, a fall, or a sudden jolt or movement. Generally, these conditions describe acute lower back pain, which lasts less than six weeks. Chronic lower back pain, which lasts for more than three months, may be attributed to other degenerative health problems, including arthritis, osteoporosis, joint or disk irritation, skeletal abnormalities, or spinal cancer.

Obesity, age, poor posture, physical inactivity, smoking, stress, poor sleeping position, depression, physically strenuous work, and sedentary jobs all increase the risk for lower back pain. That being said, one can prevent and/or reduce lower back pain by following some of the important tips below.

Barbara A. Curbow, PhD, professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health Sciences, also says “People should get up and walk around if they have been sitting for prolonged periods of time. They should be particularly vigilant during times of high work or school stress because we tend to tense up lower back muscles more and we tend to lose track of time and may sit in a single position for far longer than we should.”

Moreover, Curbow adds “Those of us who supervise others should be mindful of doing what we can to reduce stress in the workplace and to make sure that those we supervise know that we encourage them to practice healthy back behaviors, such as taking breaks to stretch or walk around.”

For more information go to the following sites:

National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

www.knowyourback.org

www.healthfinder.gov

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.