In the United States, 85 to 90 percent of people experience an episode of low back pain at some time during their lives. Back pain is the second most common reason people visit their family doctor (just after upper respiratory infections). Pain that primarily affects the back is different from a spinal condition that results in mostly leg pain, a condition commonly called sciatica. The cause of an episode of back pain often is more difficult to pinpoint and may be related to the discs, joints or soft tissue supports (muscles, ligaments and tendons).
[See: 11 Ways to Cope With Back Pain.]
Here are some tips to help maintain a healthy spine:
1. Staying active. Maintaining activities, aerobic exercise and a good fitness level are beneficial. This helps provide flexibility and support to the supporting structures. Some of these structures include strong abdominal and lumbar paraspinal muscles for support, and flexible gluteal and hamstring muscles.
2. Maintaining a weight that is appropriate for your height and frame.
3. Cigarette cessation because smokers experience more spine pain and they heal more slowly.
4. Maintain good posture by standing, walking, sitting, lifting and lying in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments.
5. Relaxation, as stress may impact the muscles. Tension can be a contributor.
You should see a health care provider if your pain is persisting or you’re experiencing the following warning signs or “red flags” that require prompt, urgent medical attention:
— You experience fever.
— Your pain progressively worsens.
— Your pain progressively moves from your back into your leg(s).
— You notice progressive weakness in your legs.
— You experience problems in your balance or walking.
— You notice difficulty controlling your bowels or bladder.
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