Eighty percent of the population, at some point in their lifetime, will experience back pain. Symptoms of lower back pain can range from a dull ache to an intense, stabbing sensation. Since the odds are likely you will or have suffered from back pain, knowing the top causes and tips for prevention will be helpful to navigate through bouts of discomfort.

You may wonder why the lower back is such a hot spot for injury and pain. Generally speaking, the lower back is subjected to supporting the weight of the upper body through the spine. The spine is made of more than 30 small vertebrae. These vertebrae bones are stacked one on top of each other with cartilage, which is typically called a disc, between each bone. The disc serves to absorb shock and prevent the bones from grinding against each other.

The major contributors to back pain are usually herniated and degenerated herniated discs. As we age, the cushioning of the cartilage/discs may rupture or bulge, which is known as a herniated disc. Causing intense pain, a herniated disc puts pressure on the spinal nerve roots. Degenerative disease is the breakdown of the spinal discs with age, causing wear and tear.

Luckily, back pain typically gets better on its own within a few days. However, if you find that you have reoccurring back pain, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort, including:

  1. Yoga/stretching – People who introduce yoga or stretching into their fitness regimes have few symptoms of back pain.
  2. Massage therapy – Massage can alleviate chronic low back pain.
  3. Physical therapy – Physical therapists can assist to strengthen muscles through a guided rehabilitation program.
  4. Stay active – Resist the urge to crawl into bed; studies show more than a day or two of bed rest can actually make the pain worse.

As always, the best cure is prevention. Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, proper posture, and lifting with your legs are all ways you can lower the risk of back pain.