Back pain snuck up on you after 50? Here are a few reasons why

Aches and pains may be expected with age, but not all of the causes are clear.

You may anticipate some back pain after a workout or other strenuous activity. This isn’t unusual either.

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“Aches and pains in the spine are just facts of life,” Dr. Alexis Tingan, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, told Penn Medicine. “They are incredibly common — some estimates say that upwards of 85% of people will experience some sort of back or neck pain.”

Here are a few unexpected reasons why AARP reported you may have chronic back pain after 50.

Continuous sitting

Prolonged sitting can be a significant source of back pain. It can also increase stress on the neck, arms and legs. Slouching can add even more spinal strain, UCLA Health reported.

“There have been some studies that measured the amount of pressure on the discs,” Dr. Steven J. Atlas, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health Publishing. “Not surprisingly, the pressure is lowest when you’re lying down.” More pressure is on the discs when you’re sitting, though. “In fact, if I come into the exam room and a patient is standing, rather than sitting, my suspicion that the person has a disc herniation goes up a lot.”

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Shoes with improper support

High heels can take your hips and spine out of alignment. That can lead to muscle overuse and back pain, according to The Spine Health Institute. But it’s not just heels that can pose a problem. Pauline Fu, doctor of podiatric medicine and an assistant clinical professor of orthopedics at Mount Sinai hospital in NYC, told Everyday Health that minimalist shoes with thin soles are not good for your back. Casual sneakers can also lack support. Instead, wear shoes with a cushion and shock support.

Smoking cigarettes

Nicotine can actually offer temporary pain reduction, but it’s ultimately unbeneficial.

“Over time, smoking may actually worsen your pain,” Cleveland Clinic pain management specialist Dr. Crawford Barnett said.

Tobacco impairs the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to bones and tissues. Decreased flow of blood and nutrients can lead to degeneration. This is especially the case in spinal discs, which already have more restricted blood flow. Further decreases can lead to lower back pain osteoporosis.

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