This is why your back hurts, according to a spine surgeon

Sitting on your wallet and certain items of clothing are among the unexpected causes of back pain.

Credit: Carol Yepes / Moment / GettyImages

A shabby home office setup, old mattress, poor fitness in the gym, and stress are common causes of back pain. But you may not always be able to pinpoint some of the more unusual reasons your back is aching.

To help you, Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, a New York City-based spinal and orthopedic surgeon, discusses six surprising culprits of back pain that could be responsible for your ailments.

“When you’re dehydrated, your intervertebral discs lose water and your spine is in distress,” says Dr. Okubadejo. “When this happens, the spine takes the full burst of your movements, which can lead to pain.” Ouch.

Fix it:Drink lots of water and limit drinks with caffeine, which are dehydrating, he says.

Always stow your wallet in your back pocket? This could be the reason your back is sore.

“When you are on your wallet, structural imbalances can appear in the spine,” says Dr. Okubadejo because one side of your body is suddenly higher than the other.

This incorrect positioning puts additional strain on your lower spine, which can lead to back pain and numbness, he explains.

The same goes for carrying a heavy handbag or bag on one shoulder. It can also “cause the neck and spine to tilt, which can lead to back pain,” says Dr. Okubadejo.

Fix it:Fortunately, there is a simple solution to back pain relief: “Pull your wallet out of your back pocket while you sit down and switch your wallet regularly from one shoulder to the other,” he says.

Need another reason to stop puffing?

The negative effects of smoking are not just limited to the lungs. Smoking can cause inflammation and damage to ligaments and muscles in the spine area, which can lead to back pain, says Dr. Okubadejo.

According to a September 2016 study by Cureus, almost 37 percent of smokers reported having back pain compared to 23.5 percent of non-smokers

Nicotine can also change the size of blood vessels and the body’s ability to adapt to pain, adds Dr. Okubadejo added. Here’s why: “When nicotine gets into the bloodstream, it slows healing and inhibits cell regeneration within the bloodstream [spinal] Discs, “explains Dr. Okubadejo.

Smoking also reduces blood flow (and therefore essential nutrients) to the intervertebral discs, which, in his opinion, can cause them to age prematurely and further contribute to your sore back.

Fix it:Quit smoking for good.

What you wear can also be responsible for your back pain. According to a 2017 consumer study by the British Chiropractic Association, skinny jeans were among the top five clothing criminals that contributed to back pain.

Why? “Skinny jeans restrict easy movement in the knees and hips and affect the way we position our bodies,” says Dr. Okubadejo. And poor posture plays a big role in back pain as it forces your spine and back muscles to hold you in unnatural positions.

Your delicacies can also cause back problems. Strapless bras, in particular, may not provide enough back support (especially if you have large breasts), says Dr. Okubadejo. Your shoulders can be strained without the straps for support, which can lead to pressure and back pain.

Fix it:Try to limit the time you spend wearing these clothes to keep your back healthy, says Dr. Okubadejo.

Have you ever noticed back pain after a night in pumps? The causes of back pain don’t stop with clothing: high heels can also affect your back health.

Heels change the way you walk by forcing you to tilt your pelvis and push your buttocks forward, arching your spine, says Dr. Okubadejo. “In severe cases, this can lead to sciatica in those who spend a lot of time walking in high-rise heels,” he adds.

And backless shoes – even if they are flat shoes – are no better. If you have to pinch your toes to keep your shoes from falling off while walking, it will affect your ability to use the front of your foot, says Dr. Okubadejo. This results in “your hips spinning up, resulting in muscle imbalance, lower body fatigue, and a sore lower back,” he explains.

Fix it:Again, reducing the time you spend wearing uncomfortable shoes is the smartest strategy to eliminate these causes of back pain.

Constantly leaning forward to scroll on your smartphone can be the reason your back hurts because poor posture can cause tension in your neck, shoulders and back.

“Constantly bending your neck forward to look down at the phone compresses and tightens the muscles and tendons in the front structure of the neck,” says Dr. Okubadejo. “This creates an imbalance and leads to restricted mobility, shoulder and neck pain, curvature of the upper back and even headaches.”

Fix it:To avoid a technical neck (and subsequent back pain), keep your phone closer to eye level and place your elbows on a tabletop to prevent your arms from getting tired.