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Eight out of 10 of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives, and what most of us wouldn’t give to be able to avoid it.
But unfortunately, back pain is difficult to prevent completely, says Cameron Carmody, M.D., an orthopaedic spine surgeon on the medical staff of Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.
That’s because two of the major risk factors—aging and the genetic health of the discs in your back—are out of your control. But there are two things you can do to lower your risk.
1. Don’t smoke. Smoking causes constriction of the blood vessels. The small blood vessels called capillaries, like those on the spinal bones and discs, are particularly affected and do not receive the blood and nutrients they need.
“You’re basically starving your discs by smoking,” Dr. Carmody explains. And this can lead to degenerative back disease and accompanying chronic back pain.
2. Exercise. “People who are sedentary tend to be out of shape and have more severe back pain episodes,” he says. So, the key is to get moving. What’s the best activity? “The exercise you’ll do often is the best kind. So find something you like to do and do it often,” he suggests.
Stick to your favorite cardiovascular activity to keep your blood vessels healthy and strength-training to build the muscles around the spine. Plus, Dr. Carmody, notes, there’s good evidence that yoga is beneficial for back health.
If back pain does strike, be sure to see a doctor if your pain is keeping you from performing normal activities of daily living, lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by an inability to urinate or difficulty urinating, numbness between the legs, weakness in the legs, chills or fever.
If you’re experiencing chronic neck and back pain caused by injury, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, spinal fractures, spine curvatures or spinal stenosis, the orthopaedic surgeons on the Baylor Plano medical staff can help. Learn more about Baylor Plano orthopaedics or get a physician referral.
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