Causes of Back Pain as Explained by Orthopedic Surgeon

Nearly 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain. Some 16 million adults experience persistent or chronic back pain, and as a result are limited in certain everyday activities. Back pain is the sixth most costly condition in the United States. While many of us think of slipped and herniated discs as the many causes of back pain, there are other lesser known causes of back pain. Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo is an NYC area spinal and orthopedic surgeon who explains how less obvious culprits can affect the back. He is the head of The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care and is Board-certified and fellowship-trained. Dr. Okubadejo specializes in the treatment of degenerative spinal disease, spinal deformity, and cervical, lumbar, and thoracic conditions. Here are eight causes of back pain that are not as well known according to Dr. Gbolahan, who is also the developer of 360CoreBoard.

Causes of Back Pain: Kidney Stones

Kidney conditions may cause back pain because the kidneys are located toward the back of your body at the level of your mid-back. Kidney stones are small pieces of calcium that form in the kidney. Many people have kidney stones and are never aware of them, as they are small enough to be passed with urination. However, larger kidney stones that grow in size over time can cause excruciating pain as the body tries to work the stone out of the narrow ureter
Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as “brittle bone disease,” in that increased bone weakness over time leaves bones more susceptible to breaking. You may think of osteoporosis as something that happens to older women. It is true that osteoporosis is most common in older women, but men may have osteoporosis as well. As the bones lose density, or mass, they become weak and more likely to break. The bones of your lower back might break even without any obvious injury, causing lower back pain.
Stress
When you’re stressed, your breathing patterns change and cause strain and tension in the mid-back. Your shoulders hunch up and cause pain throughout the upper and middle back. Low-back pain includes the tailbone and lower half of the back muscles. These muscles affect flexibility and posture.
Sedentary Lifestyles
Many of us spend a lot of our waking hours on our behinds thanks to jobs that have us in front of computers all day. But unfortunately, such a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of chronic low back pain. The answer is to stretch and get moving!

Additional Causes of Back Pain: Poor Posture

Poor posture can either cause lower back pain or make it worse. This doesn’t only mean slouching or slumping at your desk; poor posture could also include leaning on one leg while you stand, or walking with your bottom so far out you have an arch in your lower back. While these postures aren’t inherently “poor” for a moment in time, maintaining these positions for prolonged periods can increase the strain on the muscles and ligaments around the lumbar spine.
Excess Body Weight
Every extra pound adds strain to back muscles and ligaments. Over time, the spine can become tilted and develop an unnatural curvature. Research has shown that obesity poses more than a mechanical stressor on joints: excess body fat also produces chemicals that contribute to joint damage.
Lesser Known Causes of Back Pain: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome is that dull, persistent, crampy, achy pain in, under, and around your sacrum (the area of your back between your hips). PMS-related back pain is a visceral pain — one that comes from a body organ (your uterus) instead of from one of the structures of the back. As your uterus cramps, the pain is referred to your back, and you can have back cramps.
Pregnancy
Lower back pain is one of the many common discomforts of pregnancy. As the weight and size of your baby (and your belly) increase, there is a tendency to tilt the pelvis forward, exaggerating the curve of the lumbar spine. This posture, called lordosis, puts strain on the lower back muscles and may even cause impingement of the sciatic nerve (sciatica). Pregnancy-related back pain can be relieved by strengthening core muscles, maintaining proper posture, and wearing an abdominal support garment meant for use in pregnancy.

Back pain can show up in many different areas of the body. Hopefully these eight lesser known causes can lend a better understanding to those who are dealing with acute or chronic back pain. Stay strong with Jefit!

Protein at Each Meal is Required for Muscle Growth

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Research has shown that it’s important to eat protein at each meal. Many Americans eat a diet that consists of little to no protein for breakfast. This is followed up with a small portion of protein at lunch and an overabundance of protein at dinner. In fact, as long as they get their recommended dietary allowance of about 60 grams, it’s all good, right? Not according to research from a team of scientists led by muscle metabolism expert Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). This research shows that the typical cereal or carbohydrate-dominated breakfast, a sandwich or salad at lunch and overly large serving of meat/protein for dinner may not provide the best metabolic environment to promote healthy aging and maintenance of muscle size and strength.

“The study, in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that the potential for muscle growth is less than optimal when protein consumption is skewed toward the evening meal instead of being evenly distributed throughout the day.”

Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD

Age-related conditions such as osteoporosis (bone weakening) and sarcopenia (muscle loss) do not develop all of a sudden. The researchers believe rather, that they are gradual processes triggered by poor lifestyle habits starting in early middle age.

Review of Research

The UTMB researchers provided volunteers with a generous daily dose of 90 grams of protein a day; consistent with the average amount currently consumed by healthy adults in the U.S. Very active individuals may benefit from a slightly higher protein intake. For the majority of adults, additional protein will likely have a diminishing positive effect on muscle metabolism says the researchers. Just as important, any less may fail to provide support for optimal muscle metabolism.

When study volunteers consumed the evenly distributed protein meals, their 24-hour muscle protein synthesis was 25 percent greater than subjects who ate according to the skewed protein distribution pattern.

An Eating Strategy for Protein

“Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we’re often taking in more than we can use, says Paddon-Jones.”

A more efficient eating strategy for building muscle and controlling total caloric intake would be to shift some of the extra protein consumed at dinner to lunch and breakfast.

“You don’t have to eat massive amounts of protein to maximize muscle synthesis. You just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it,” Paddon-Jones said. “For breakfast consider replacing some carbohydrate, particularly the simple sugars, with high-quality protein. Throw in an egg, a glass of milk, yogurt or add a handful of nuts to get closer to 30 grams of protein. Try doing something similar to get to 30 grams for lunch, and then moderate the amount of protein for dinner. Do this, and over the course of the day you will likely spend much more time synthesizing muscle protein.” Eat healthy and stay strong with Jefit.

Reference

Madonna M. Mamerow, Joni A. Mettler, Kirk L. English, Shanon L. Casperson, Emily Arentson-Lantz, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Donald K. Layman, and Douglas Paddon-Jones, Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults, J Nutr. 2014 Jun; 144(6): 876–880. Published online 2014 Jan 29. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280

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