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There are numerous underlying causes of back stiffness, and having a short list of likely explanations will help you have a more fruitful discussion with your doctor.
Here are four frequent underlying reasons of back stiffness and pain:
1. Muscle tension in your thighs and hips
Tightness in specific muscle groups in your thighs and/or hips may affect the biomechanics of your spine.
The hamstring muscles travel down the back of your thighs. These huge and powerful muscles can become tight due to a variety of factors, including physical inactivity or a lack of stretching before and/or after exercising.
When your hamstrings are tense, they shorten. These alterations might influence the curvature of your lower spine, causing it to be out of alignment with your pelvis (hip). As a result, you may experience lower back stiffness with or without discomfort. When you bend your spine forward, the stiffness is usually more evident.
Targeted hamstring stretching can help you gradually lengthen your hamstrings while also relieving lower back tightness.
Hip flexors that are too tight
Your hip’s iliopsoas muscle permits you to lift your thigh and bring it close to your torso. This is referred to as hip flexion.
Tightness in the iliopsoas muscle can cause stiffness in the spine’s segments. Spinal instability can occur as a result of significant iliopsoas tension. The surrounding spinal tissues may also become inflamed and irritated, resulting in pain.
Stretches that lengthen the hip flexors can help reduce pressure on the spine.
2. Sitting with your spine curved forward.
When you sit for an extended period of time, the following changes occur in your spine:
Pressure increases in each spinal section
reduced strength in your upper and lower back muscles
Reduced nutrition supply to spinal tissues
The tension on your spine is increased when you sit on the edge of your chair or lean over your computer, which can cause stiffness and pain.
Sedentism can worsen these alterations, resulting in spinal stiffness within an hour of sitting.
Maintain an upright sitting posture to avoid back stiffness. Roll your shoulders back, ears over shoulders, and upper arms parallel to the torso. When sitting in an office chair, try to avoid using the backrest all the time and sit upright to activate your core muscles.
3. Changes in inflammation in your spine
Inflammation can cause your spine’s joints to stiffen and/or fuse, resulting in stiffness. Here are two common examples:
Ankylosing spondylitis occurs when spinal inflammation causes progressive fusion of neighbouring vertebrae. The syndrome causes chronic pain and stiffness in the upper and/or lower back.
The stiffness normally improves with activity but not with rest.
The deterioration of the protecting cartilage between the facet joints at the back of your spine is known as osteoarthritis. As a result, when you move, your joints create extra friction, producing discomfort and stiffness.
The stiffness is frequently evident in the morning, eases with movement during the day, and returns after prolonged periods of inactivity or rest.
Medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes can all be used to treat ankylosing spondylitis and spinal osteoarthritis.
4. Dehydration and spinal disc shrinking
The spinal discs are shock-absorbing pads that sit between your vertebrae and distribute loads throughout your spine. Age-related alterations in these discs might cause degeneration, affecting their biomechanics.
When a disc degenerates, its fibrocartilage component breaks down, water is lost, and its height decreases. These changes might induce spinal stiffness, particularly when bending. 7
Physical therapy, exercise, medicines, and weight loss (if applicable) are common treatments. Surgery is only suggested in rare cases.
Talk to your doctor if you have back stiffness that does not go away with self-care and/or interferes with your normal activities. A doctor can assist you in determining the source of your back stiffness and developing a treatment strategy for the underlying condition.
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