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Back Pain: How It Becomes a Chronic Problem for Baby Boomers

By Lex Gonzales April 29, 2022 Health and Fitness

You are not alone if you’re experiencing back pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.6 million older adults suffer from back and spine problems. That is more than twice the number of disabilities caused by heart problems. It is significant enough of a problem that it severely impacts the quality of life of millions of Baby Boomers.

So, how does your back pain become a chronic, constant, or persistent problem?

  • Weak or uncoordinated core muscles
  • Poor ergonomics or body mechanics
  • Neuroplasticity

Weak or Uncoordinated Core Muscles

As we age and our level of physical activity decreases, the strength of our muscles, including our core or spinal muscles, also declines.

Weak or uncoordinated core muscles are one of the most common culprits behind chronic back pain.

These muscles play an essential role in maintaining proper posture and providing support to the spine, hips, and pelvis.

However, when these muscles become weak or uncoordinated due to poor exercise habits or injury, the entire body becomes imbalanced and prone to back pain.

Without a strong and coordinated core, the rest of the body is subjected to increased stress and strain each time we move, which can take a significant toll on our backs over time.

To prevent this from happening and reduce your risk of experiencing persistent or chronic back pain, it is important to focus on not just building stronger core muscles but also on making sure that those muscles activate or contract at the right time.

In my book, Back Pain Unlocked, I emphasize the need for a coordinated back exercise program – it is not just about strengthening your core muscles. After all, many strong, body-building athletes suffer from back pain!

Even more important than strengthening your core is making sure that your core and spinal muscles activate or contract at the right time!

Learning how to activate your spinal and core muscles at the right time could just be the skill you need to keep your back pain from becoming a recurring or chronic problem.

Poor Ergonomics

Poor ergonomics and poor body mechanics have been identified as significant contributors to the development of back pain.

These two factors refer to the way we position our bodies while performing various tasks, both at work and at home.

For example, when working at a desk, we may slouch in our chair, curving forward with poor posture. Or we may twist or bend our bodies in ways that strain the soft tissues, ligaments, and muscles of our backs.

Over time, this can lead to inflammation and chronic pain in the lower back region.

Proper body mechanics and conscious back care habits minimize the unnecessary load and strain we otherwise put on our back.

Additionally, oftentimes people who suffer from back pain use coping strategies that only exacerbate their symptoms, such as tensing their muscles or holding their breath incorrectly.

Therefore, it is clear that by focusing on good ergonomics and body mechanics while performing all daily activities – whether at work or elsewhere – we can help prevent back pain and improve overall health and well-being.

Neuroplasticity

Often, this is the most common reason for back pain becoming a constant, persistent, or chronic problem.

Often, this is also the most forgotten or neglected cause in the management of chronic back pain.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.

This process is normally adaptive, allowing the brain to adapt to new situations and learn new skills. However, neuroplasticity can also lead to chronic pain. When an injury or other type of damage occurs to the nervous system, the brain may compensate by forming new connections.

These new connections, however, can be abnormal, causing pain signals to be sent even if the original injury has already healed.

In this article about neuroplastic pain, I discuss the what, why, and how neuroplasticity can cause persistent, recurring, or chronic back pain.

There are many ways to treat chronic back pain, but…

Before taking that pain pill…

Before getting that injection on your back…

Before deciding on a surgical intervention…

First, take a look at the root cause of your chronic back pain.

I share this because while there are many potential causes of chronic back pain, baby boomers are especially at risk for developing the condition due to the factors I mentioned above.

If your back pain has become a chronic problem, look into those factors.

You may just have to address one or two factors above to finally achieve a breakthrough solution to your chronic back pain problems.

How about you? What strategies have you found that worked best in keeping your back pain from becoming a chronic problem?

Let's Have a Conversation!

The Author

Dr. Lex Gonzales, PT, DPT received his degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of South Florida in the USA. He has been a physiotherapist for over 24 years with a special interest in the geriatric or older adult population. Visit him at drlexgonzales.com.

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