Does it often seem like you hear about people, including yourself, suffering from back pain? Around 80% of the US either suffers from or has had back pain at some point in their life, that is a large amount of people.

Most wonder where exactly all of the discomfort and pain comes from and depending on age, lifestyle and events that occur in life, there can be many different causes. Things like moving heavy furniture or sitting incorrectly in your chair can be main causes of back discomfort. Huffington Post suggests seven other things that you might not know cause pain, but should be mindful of :

1. Smoking

Smoking can affect back pain in two ways. “Smoking has been show to decrease blood supply to the discs in the back, causing premature aging of discs,” says Vijay Vad, M.D., an assistant attending physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. That premature aging of the discs can cause pain in the lower back, according to the study, which was conducted at John’s Hopkins University. Another study from theNorthwestern University School of Medicine found a different smoking-back pain connection. According to that study, smoking affects the way the brain responds to back pain and makes people less resilient to it.

2. Sitting

“There’s no question that sitting puts pressure on the discs in your back,” says Dr Roth. “The pressure decreases blood supply to the discs and increases the risk of disc injury,” agrees Dr. Vad. If you’re someone who sits at a desk all day, consider using a standing desk to alleviate the pressure on your back, or take breaks every 30 minutes or so to stretch and walk around. Walking can flush toxins and “brings nutrition to the discs,” says Dr. Vad.

3. Stress

“The lower back is the ultimate example of the mind-body connection,” says Dr. Vad. Stress can tighten your muscles and cause discs to bulge, creating pain. It can also lower your threshold for pain. “It literally stiffens you,” says Dr. Roth. Manage your stress with exercise, meditation, and deep breathing.

4. Flying on a plane

The next time you fly, consider checking your heavy luggage instead of storing it overhead. “The pressurized air in the cabin can irritate a disc and make it vulnerable to bulging,” says Dr. Vad. “So be careful lifting heavy luggage or heavy weights or doing vigorous sports right after a long flight.” He suggests stretching and walking right after a flight to help minimize the risk of disc bulge.

5. Diet

It stands to reason that being overweight can put more pressure on your back and make you more susceptible to back pain. Onestudy from Stanford Universityfound that people who are extremely overweight are at four times greater risk of having lower back pain. The study also found that doing just 20 minutes of exercise a day can reduce the risk of back pain by 32 percent.

Another part of your diet to pay attention to, according to Dr. Vad? Sugar. “Processed sugars can spike inflammation in the body and cause back pain,” says Dr. Vad. So consider cutting back on big sugar offenders like cookies, doughnuts, cake, and other sweets.

6. Your mattress

If you’re constantly waking up with back pain, it might be that your mattress is too soft. “A medium-firm mattress is ideal for your back,” says Dr. Vad. With a soft mattress, the weight on your back can be uneven and cause you pain.

7. Talking on a cell phone

Talking on your cell phone, especially if you use your shoulder to balance it at your ear, can create uneven pressure, causing neck pain. And that neck pain can extend to your back. Also be mindful if you text a lot—you’re potentially straining your neck by looking down repeatedly. Opt for earphones when you talk on your cell, and cut down on texting or try to hold your phone in front of you when texting to reduce the strain on your neck.

If you do have back pain…

Do not ignore it and hope it gets better, there is help for you! We suggest to meet with a specialist to see what treatment options fit your needs. Along with pain management we also suggest trying medical massages to help with your discomfort! Pain Specialists of Charleston offers many different treatment plans and also we have two in office medical massage therapists. Call us today so we can help YOU get back to life!