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Factors That Increase the Risk of Back Pain and Injury


Topic Overview

The following factors may increase your risk for back pain.

Factors you cannot control

  • Growing older
  • Being a man
  • Being pregnant. A woman's back is significantly stressed by carrying a baby.
  • Having a family history of back pain
  • Having a problem with your spine that has been present since birth (congenital)
  • Having a degenerative disease of the spine, such as osteoporosis or arthritis

Factors you can control

  • Not exercising regularly
  • Sitting for long periods, lifting or pulling heavy objects, bending or twisting frequently, heavy physical exertion, repetitive motions, and exposure to constant vibration, such as from driving
  • Smoking. A smoker is twice as likely to have low back pain than a nonsmoker.
  • Being overweight (weighing more than 20% over your ideal body weight)
  • Having poor posture
  • Being under a lot of stress
  • Having a mental health problem, such as depression or severe anxiety
  • Having an illness or disease that causes chronic coughing

Activities that increase your risk

  • Running or jogging
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Sledding, snowmobiling, or tobogganing
  • Sports that require forceful twisting, such as gymnastics and wrestling
  • Contact sports, such as football or rugby
  • Work-related activities that require repeated lifting, bending, or twisting of the back

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Last RevisedAugust 5, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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