Will everyone eventually develop back pain?

It’s a fair question: Will I eventually develop back pain?

The answer is a little more complicated: It depends. Back pain is very common, with 85% of adults experiencing it at some point in their lives. However, not every person has the same level of risk. A variety of risk factors can increase your odds of experiencing back pain. Here are 7 risk factors you should watch for:

Though back pain can affect people of any age, the odds of experiencing back pain increase with age. As you enter your 30s and 40s, lower back pain becomes more common. Osteoporosis causes a loss in bone strength which can cause fractures and a decrease in tone and muscle elasticity. Intervertebral discs lose fluid and flexibility over time, which decreases the cushioning between vertebrae. These and other spinal conditions associated with aging can cause back pain.

Lack of exercise
Weak or unused muscles in the back and the abdomen can contribute to back pain. This is because weak muscles may not be able to fully support the spine. Also, people who are inactive during the week and exercise a lot on the weekends are more likely to injure their backs than people who practice moderate daily exercise.

Excess weight
Being overweight or obese may cause back pain because excess weight puts greater strain on your back. Quickly gaining large amounts of weight can also lead to low back pain.

Not all diseases are linked to back pain, but some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain.

Improper lifting
When lifting heavy objects, it is best to lift with your legs rather than your back. If you rely on your back when lifting, though, it can cause back strain or injury, increasing the likelihood of back pain.

This risk factor may be a surprise. Smoking has many negative impacts on your health including your back. This is because smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can prevent the blood from delivering important nutrients to the discs in your back. Smoking also slows your body’s ability to heal, so injuries to your back can take longer to heal if you are a smoker.

Mental health/psychological health
This is another risk factor that may be a surprise. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with depression or anxiety may be at a higher risk of having back pain. This is because anxiety and depression can change how closely people focus on their pain and their perception of its severity.

Mood, stress and overall psychological well-being can also affect the likelihood of experiencing back pain. Think of how your body can feel tenser when you experience stress. This is an example of how mental health can affect your physical health.

Anyone can experience back pain. However, knowing and working to reduce these risk factors can help you prevent or lessen back pain. If you have back pain, there are methods you can use to help reduce your back pain. Learn more about these methods in our lower back pain relief blog. Talk to your doctor if your back pain is severe or has lasted more than 3 weeks.