3 Keys to Preventing Back Pain

February 26, 2024

Takeaways from a recent TV interview on back pain

More than 80 percent of the population suffers from neck or back pain at some point, but only a small proportion of those individuals are surgical patients. Many back problems can be resolved with physical therapy, pain management, and other nonsurgical interventions. The best defense against back pain, though, is prevention.

There are many physical factors that can contribute to back and neck pain, but three stand out – I encourage everyone to pay attention to these now, before back pain starts.

  1. Obesity. Excess weight puts lots of pressure on the spine and can cause pain.  I send many of my patients to weight-loss specialists, and sometimes bariatric surgery, before considering spine surgery. After weight loss, some of those patients experience so much pain relief that they do not need spine surgery at all.
  2. Poor posture. It is important to stay fit and work on posture to maintain good spine health.  This at times needs a physical therapist or personal trainer.
  3. A weak core. Core muscle strength is critical to spine health.  It is important to strengthen the core to take pressure off the spine.

Our modern lifestyle affects both posture and core strength. Ergonomics in schools and in the workplace are often not ideal, and they are one of the likely culprits behind the prevalence of neck and back pain in both adults and children.

On top of the physical considerations, psychological conditions and pain are intertwined.  It is a vicious cycle: Psychological conditions can produce pain, and living with pain can cause or exacerbate psychological conditions. This highlights the importance of having a patient be seen by a multidisciplinary pain clinic, where pain psychologists are involved to help with this process.

What to Do

  • Massage therapy and acupuncture can be helpful for back pain that does not include any neurologic symptoms.
  • Back or neck pain becomes more problematic if it is associated with neurologic symptoms, including weakness, numbness, tingling in the arms and legs, problems with bowel/bladder control, and problems with walking and balance. Once these neurological symptoms appear, patients should seek the advice of spine specialists in a multidisciplinary practice, where they can receive expert diagnostic help as well as a range of treatment options.

Dr. Kashlan was recently interviewed on MBC TV in Saudi Arabia about this topic, and the tips here are at the heart of the discussion. The conversation is conducted in Arabic; you can watch the interview here or below.

More about Dr. Kashlan

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787