Chronic pain doesn’t happen for no reason. It is your body’s response to conditions that prevent it from functioning normally. We may or may not be able to see the source of the problem as our body works to compensate. Indeed, the pain may not even arise at the source of the problem.
Many people unknowingly re-aggravate the underlying condition every day by their daily actions.
Take the case of back pain.
Consider all these activities that prevent our backs from repairing themselves and instead causing us chronic pain.
Eating the wrong foods
The average American diet is loaded with sugar, saturated fats, sodium, dairy and gluten, all of which exacerbate chronic pain by encouraging inflammation. In addition, most Americans overeat, leading to weight gain, which imposes added stress on joints and nerves. A healthy, balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, good fats and lean proteins is the best diet for your back, not to mention your heart and the rest of your body.
Sleeping the wrong way on the wrong mattress
Old mattresses – more than 10 years old – lose their ability to support your body weight. The result is sleeping with improper alignment. Sleeping on your back or stomach reinforces the problem by putting added strain on your spine. Side sleeping can prevent back pain, particularly if you tuck your legs in slightly towards your chest.
Sitting too long and all wrong
Long bouts of sitting flatten the natural curve of the spine and redistribute pressure on disks and bones not designed to withstand it. Hunching over a computer makes it much worse, stressing the back, neck and spine. If you work at a computer, take periodic breaks to stretch and make sure your chair has lumbar support.
Smokers are three times as likely to suffer back pain, in part because smoking constricts blood flow, which hardens spinal disks, and weakens bones. Smoking also slows healing. And that’s just its effect on your back. Quitting tobacco is the single greatest gift anyone can do for their own health.
Having poor posture generally
If you have developed the habit of poor posture, you’re putting constant stress on your back, neck and shoulders. Decades of poor posture every waking minute can have a debilitating effect on the bones and muscles.
Wearing high heels
Humans were not made to walk with their heels inches above the balls of their feet. High heels force your back to arch, compressing the lower leg muscles and distorting the pelvis. If you have back issues, throw away your high heels now and forever.
Failing to exercise
Strong connecting and opposing muscles help keep the spine healthy. Just about all exercise strengthens stomach, leg and hip muscles. Regular physical activity also helps reduce excess weight, which is a culprit in back pain as well.
All that said, these actions don’t cause chronic pain, they simply aggravate it. In a healthy, functioning person, the body repairs damage as it occurs. Chronic pain is a sign that the body isn’t functioning properly, and so it can’t replace the degenerating tissues fast enough. Old tissue begins to slowly accumulate, and over many years you develop enough damaged tissue to cause a real problem. With back pain, that buildup usually is happening to multiple tissues at the same time.
The best response is to fix the underlying cause and then engage in good habits to maintain the repairs. One of the best things anyone can do is see their chiropractor, who is trained to find the source of pain and address it.