Most of us know the usual culprits of back pain; stress, excess body weight, improper lifting technique, and poor posture. While these are the typical causes, unexpected issues can be causing all that agony. Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non organic – meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer (Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29573870/). We spoke to Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo, NYC area Orthopedic and Spinal Surgeon to discuss the surprising factors that could be causing your back pain.
Smoking increases brain activity that makes people less resilient when it comes to responding to back pain. Smoking also causes premature aging of discs by decreasing blood supply to the discs in the back, thus leading to pain in the lower back.
- The incorrect mattress
Old mattresses start to form dips from years of use. The dips in the mattress cause the spine to curve, leading to constant stiffness or pain. A mattress that is too firm can cause strain on pressure points in the knees, hip, shoulders, and back, which can cause backaches. If the mattress is too soft, your spine is not supported well enough, and the spine can fall out of alignment.
- Your purse or wallet
Structural imbalances in the spinal column can occur when you sit on your wallet. This can happen because one side of your body is higher than the other, and an excess amount of physical stress is placed on the lower spine. This can lead to lower back pain and numbness. Carrying a heavy purse or bag on one shoulder can also cause a neck and spinal tilt that can lead to backaches. Remove your wallet from your back pocket when you are sitting down, and regularly switch your purse from one shoulder to another.
- Your wardrobe
There are unexpected items in your wardrobe that could be causing your back pain. Skinny jeans, heavy bags, strapless bras, high heels, and backless shoes are all clothing items that may be influencing your pain. Try to limit the amount of time you spend in these clothes to promote optimal wellness.
When you are dehydrated, the spinal discs lose water, and your spine is in distress. When this happens, the spine takes on the full shock of your movements, which can lead to pain. Avoid drinks with caffeine and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Your cell phone
Constantly hunching your neck over to look down at your phone compresses and tightens the muscles and tendons in the front structure of your neck. This creates imbalance and results in reduced mobility, shoulder and neck pain, a curvature formation at the upper back, and even headaches.
- Incorrect ergonomic work set up
Many people have been working from home due to the pandemic. Working from home has led to slouching and hunching in front of our handheld laptops or work from home setups. Slouching can lead to neck and shoulder pain, back problems, and stiff hips. Make sure to sit all the way back in a computer chair and keep your thighs horizontal to your knees at hip level.
About the Doctor
Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, leads The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care, with offices in the greater New York City area, as a spinal and orthopedic surgeon. Board-certified and fellowship-trained, Dr. Okubadejo specializes in the treatment of degenerative spinal disease, spinal deformity, and cervical, lumbar, and thoracic conditions.
Dr. Okubadejo earned his undergraduate degree at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. He completed his internship and orthopedic surgery residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Okubadejo completed a spinal surgery fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Okubadejo is a published research author and has presented his findings at several major spinal conferences around the globe. While a surgical resident, he won the Leonard Marmor Surgical Arthritis Foundation Resident Award for the best research project. In 2017, Dr. Okubadejo formed the company 360 Dynamized Core, which is focused on creating innovative, spine-safe core fitness products and routines. The first patented product, 360
CoreBoard, launched to the market in 2020. Find out more at 360coreboard.com
Dr. Okubadejo believes in the power of preventive care, minimally invasive surgical procedures, open communication with patients, and personalized care. When he’s not caring for patients, he enjoys traveling, learning about different cultures and the arts, and playing golf.