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Risk Factors for Low Back Pain and Sciatica
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Risk Factors for Low Back Pain and Sciatica

Main Page | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Living With Low Back Pain and Sciatica | Living With Low Back Pain and Sciatica | Resource Guide

En Español (Spanish Version)

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop low back pain or sciatica with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing low back pain or sciatica. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your healthcare provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors include:

Sedentary Job or Lifestyle

Muscles that support the back can become weak with lack of exercise.

Occupation

Work that requires the following motions puts additional stress on the back:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Bending or twisting
  • Exposure to vibrations, such as riding in a car or operating heavy machinery

Participating in Strenuous or Contact Sports

Injuries from contact sports or falls can result in back pain.

Cigarette Smoking

Smoking can harm structures of the spine.

Obesity

Excess body weight puts pressure on the spine and discs.

Improper Lifting Techniques

Lifting objects using your back muscles instead of the stronger muscles in your legs increases your risk of back injury.

Age

As you grow older, the discs in your back begin to degenerate, increasing the risk of disc problems and back pain, especially after age 40. However, even with some disc degeneration seen on X-rays, most people do not have back pain secondary to that.

References:

Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd edition. W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/ .

Textbook of Primary Care Medicine . 3rd edition. Mosby, Inc.; 2001.



Last reviewed February 2007 by Barbara Harty-Golder, MD, JD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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