Obesity and smoking have also been found to accelerate the aging of the discs. The limit for overweight is usually 25, measured by body mass index, and 30 for obesity. The step to get rid of obesity is a healthy diet. Smoking increases the risk of developing lower back pain. According to several studies, smoking increases the risk of both low back pain and stroke. Smoking reduces the flow of blood and thereby oxygen and nutrients to the inter-vertebral discs. This causes a weakening of the metabolism of the disc and thereby slows down the healing of injuries.
In the long term, smoking can lead to harmful changes in the blood vessels of the spine, causing the blood to flow more slowly than normal. The discs do not have direct blood circulation, but they get the nutrients they need through the surrounding tissues. Non-smoking protects the blood circulation of the back best. The reason for the decrease in blood flow has also been suggested to be narrowing and blockages of the arteries leaving the aorta, with which smoking accelerates the degeneration of the spinal structures.
Smoking also reduces bone mineral density, leading to premature osteoporosis, fragility of vertebrae and micro-fractures. In addition, smoking affects the level of inflammatory factors in the blood and can thereby increase pain. Regular leisure time exercise reduces the risk of back pain. Exercise and training are of primary importance in the prevention and treatment of back problems. Exercise has a pain-relieving effect. The positive effects of endurance-type exercise are considered to be based, among other things, on the increase in the secretion of stress hormones and the release of pain-relieving endorphins.
The back needs versatile loading. Even a small amount of exercise has a positive effect. Psychosocial factors can have an impact on the experience of pain and the risk of developing disability. Stress symptoms increase back pain, and the pain is generally accompanied by depression, anxiety and fear. In examining and treating low back pain, the whole person and their life situation are taken into account.
Back pain doesn’t mean your back is damaged. Your back may be sensitive to pain due to movement restrictions, wrong movements, muscle tension, immobility, lack of sleep, stress, or low mood. Most lower back pain is related to small sprains, which can be very painful for a short time. A good night’s sleep, exercise and a healthy diet and quitting smoking also help your back. The brain is like an amplifier – the more you worry about the pain and think about it, the more severe the back pain becomes.