Are you concerned as to why you have a stiff back? You’re not alone. Approximately 80% of individuals suffer from a stiff back at some stage of their lives, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Back pain can be as simple as muscle tension or potentially a more serious underlying cause. As we age, back stiffness is much more common, but it’s important to look out for some of the primary causes of back pain to help you get the treatment you need.
First and foremost, posture should be monitored. Poor posture is the leading cause of back pain but it is entirely preventable. It can decrease flexibility and impact the movement of joints and balance. It can also lead to many other long-term health problems including the likes of fatigue, mental health and breathing
If you tend to sit in the same position for hours at a time each day – whether it be at a desk or perhaps long periods in the car, you’re putting extra pressure on the spinal discs and may potentially cause them to weaken as they’re not being used enough. In this case, it would be wise to take frequent breaks for exercise and perform a few basic stretches to improve muscle function.
Some of the typical scenarios that are indicative of poor posture include:
– Chair seat is too high leading to dangling feet
– Desk is too high and the chair seat is low leading to raised shoulders
– You sit half way through the seat pan (you do not sit all the way back in such a way that your back is supported)
– You slouch back on the chair which can lead to tailbone pain
It would also be highly advised to invest in an ergonomic workstation as this will help you to retain good posture throughout the working day.
The majority of the other causes of back pain are medical-related; which are detailed below:
Muscle or Ligament Strain
If you regularly undertake strenuous physical work, there’s a high possibility that you’re suffering from muscular tension and strain around the spinal column. Constantly lifting heavy objects or even a quick sharp movement can cause muscle twinges which are luckily only momentary. Nevertheless, you should be getting plenty of rest for the muscles to heal accordingly. If the pain lasts for more than two weeks, your GP may refer you for an X-ray or MRI scan to help establish the principal cause.
Lumbar Spine Osteoarthritis
Lumbar spine osteoarthritis is a long-term condition that is caused by general wear and tear of the spinal column joints. Without treatment, arthritis can cause daily pain as the bones grind against one another. As you age, you may discover that you’re unable to bend over or move as well as you once did.
The earlier you get a diagnosis for lumbar spine osteoarthritis, the better; as treatments can work to maintain your bone health to prevent damage from taking hold quickly. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by an X-ray.
Sciatic Nerve Pain
Another more serious case of back pain is the inflammation and pressure on the nerve root of the spine. Sharp shooting pains may be felt through the leg and towards the foot, but it is also common to experience a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the lower spine. Depending on the severity of the condition, there are multiple treatment options on offer, however, getting enough rest and avoiding certain movements which are likely to trigger the pain would be the starting point.
If your back pain lasts up to a month, it would be recommended to book an appointment with your health care provider for further examination and diagnosis.