If there’s a perfect example of the contrast between strength and fragility, it is the human back.
On one hand, your back is durable enough to bear much of your body’s weight when you’re standing or sitting upright, lifting or performing other strenuous activities. Yet, it is because of the burden your back must bear – especially the lumbar, or lower back – that it is susceptible to strains and sprains.
What’s the difference between a strain and a sprain? A back strain occurs when either a muscle or tendon – the tissue connecting muscle to bone – is injured. A sprain, on the other hand, occurs when a ligament – the tissue connecting bone to bone – is injured.
Back problems due to strains and sprains are common injuries – second only to headaches as the most common health care complaint. In the case of back strains, they’re caused by twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon by improper lifting or by over-stressing your back muscles. Prolonged, repetitive movement of your muscles and tendons can also result in chronic strain.
A back sprain is often sustained from a sudden twist or fall, or by a blow to your body that forces a joint out of place. Whatever the cause, one or more ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of movement.
You’re at a greater risk of a back strain or sprain if you have weak muscles, poor posture, or play sports – such as football or weightlifting – that involve pushing and pulling.
But anyone can easily strain or sprain their back, and although you can’t prevent all back injuries, you can take steps to lower your risk of a strain or sprain, such as:
- Eat healthy. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Maintain a normal weight. This relieves the stress put on your lower back by excess weight.
- Exercise regularly. Stretching exercises, in particular, keep your joints flexible and your muscles in solid condition.
- Practice safety measures. Wear shoes that fit properly and keep your home and workspace clutter-free to avoid falls.
- Maintain good posture and body mechanics when sitting, standing and lifting. Keep your back straight, your shoulders back, and, when sitting, keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Avoid twisting movements and don’t overreach. Always bend your knees when lifting and use your leg muscles to help balance a load.
- Quit smoking. Nicotine has been found to restrict blood flow to the muscles.
- Stay active. Idleness can lead to weight gain, loss of bone density, and loss of muscle strength and flexibility.
Regardless of your age, if you’re experiencing back pain, the orthopedic physicians at OrthoUnited in North Canton, Ohio, can help diagnose your injury and provide treatment to reduce or eliminate your pain. OrthoUnitedoffers the latest in diagnostic techniques to ensure prompt care. Call (844) 469-2663 for an appointment today.