No matter your gender, back pain can be one of the most frustrating medical conditions around. And though we often talk about how it affects people in general, it’s important sometimes to point out the differences in how back pain occurs in men and women. With Father’s Day right around the corner, I thought this would be a great time to discuss some things you might not know about back pain’s effect on men and more importantly, how you can help the guy in your live outsmart Father Time by preventing it before it becomes a problem.
Although back pain is among the most common causes of pain and disability in American today, men typically report a greater frequency of pain occurring in the low back. This type of back pain, medically referred to as lumbar spine pain can be the result of a number of injuries or conditions, but most often relating to muscle strains caused by lifting heavy objects or intense sporting activities. If the man in your life is prone to low back pain complaints, encourage him to use proper lifting techniques whenever he has to pick up something heavy (bend at the knees, lift with the legs, don’t stoop over the object and when possible, get help if the item is bulky or extremely heavy). Likewise, if extreme sporting events are the likely low back pain trigger, let him know that even a short warm-up and stretching beforehand can save him a world of hurt after that friendly game of “touch” football with his buddies.
Of course, not every incidence of back pain is related to something they guy in your life is actually doing. From nerve compression caused by bulging spinal discs to scoliosis and even spinal fractures, these conditions can be the result of regular wear and tear over time or in the case of scoliosis, from a congenital (present at birth) spinal deformity that is causing pain later in life. Even so, there are plenty of things men can do to reduce their risk of back pain. If the important man in your life is a smoker, encouraging him to quit for good can help reduce the incidence of back pain over his lifetime. The chemicals present in cigarettes can have a negative effect on the body’s circulatory system and can result in back pain for many people when this happens. Also, if he’s overweight that’s another unnecessary cause of back pain that can be remedied with even small reductions in weight. Our bodies were designed to carry a certain amount of weight and when there’s too much, it is often the spine that pays the price – and lets him know it in the form of back pain. Regular exercise, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and proper sleep are great ways to keep the body and spine healthy.
If there’s a man in your life that’s been experiencing back pain for more than a few weeks and it hasn’t resolved with conservative treatments, it might be time to encourage him to see a spine specialist to get to the bottom of it. Figuring out the cause sooner rather than later can save the guy you love a world of hurt and tougher problems to treat down the road.