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In any given 3 month period, 25% of adults in the United States complain of at least one day of back pain. Though this pain is often in the lower back, the complicated structure of the back increases the likelihood of ailments and makes it difficult to pinpoint the root cause.
The back is highly complicated and is comprised of 33 vertebrae stacked in a column with the nerves of the spinal cord running through the middle. Between the vertebrae, spongy discs act as cushions, while ligaments and tendons hold the structure together.
A variety of problems can occur in the back due to muscles, discs, bones, or even disruptive forces like fractures or tumors. However, most back pain is non-descript and actually tends to go away by itself. Degeneration or arthritis can also cause pain in the small joints of the back.
Those most at risk of back pain are people who are either generally inactive, or obese. An especially likely risk of back pain exists among individuals who are mostly inactive but participate in infrequent bursts of exercise.
Though most back pain subsides by itself, chronic back pain is not uncommon. Chronic back pain is described as a continuation of pain for longer than 3 months. In these cases, medical attention may be necessary, and though less likely, surgical intervention can be employed in extreme cases.
Tips for a Healthy Back
1) Stay active and fit
2) Stretch before physical activity
3) Focus on correct posture
4) Wear comfortable shoes
5) Bend at the knees when lifting
6) Talk to your doctor
7) Don't smoke