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Factors That Increase the Risk of Back Pain and Injury

Topic Overview

The following factors may increase your risk for back pain.

Factors you cannot control

  • Growing older
  • Being a man
  • Being pregnant. A woman's back is significantly stressed by carrying a baby.
  • Having a family history of back pain
  • Having a problem with your spine that has been present since birth (congenital)
  • Having a degenerative disease of the spine, such as osteoporosis or arthritis

Factors you can control

  • Not exercising regularly
  • Sitting for long periods, lifting or pulling heavy objects, bending or twisting frequently, heavy physical exertion, repetitive motions, and exposure to constant vibration, such as from driving
  • Smoking. A smoker is twice as likely to have low back pain than a nonsmoker.
  • Being overweight (weighing more than 20% over your ideal body weight)
  • Having poor posture
  • Being under a lot of stress
  • Having a mental health problem, such as depression or severe anxiety
  • Having an illness or disease that causes chronic coughing

Activities that increase your risk

  • Running or jogging
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Sledding, snowmobiling, or tobogganing
  • Sports that require forceful twisting, such as gymnastics and wrestling
  • Contact sports, such as football or rugby
  • Work-related activities that require repeated lifting, bending, or twisting of the back

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised August 5, 2011

Last Revised: August 5, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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