Are you more likely to end up with spine pain in Texas? There was a story out of England a few years back about a woman who was sitting on the couch in front of the TV when she sneezed and created serious spine pain, with “an injury that left her virtually bedridden for most of the next two years,” according to the Daily Mail. Specifically, “the sneeze caused a ruptured disc in her spine, which resulted in her sciatic nerve being trapped between two vertebrae.”
And while the severity of the injury was very rare, the cause may be more common than you think—especially for those who live in Texas. If you think you’re more likely to end up with spine pain in Texas, between the allergies that cause all that sneezing, the long commutes, and a variety of other factors, you just might be right.
Living in Texas is wonderful in so many ways—just ask anyone who’s ever lived here. But the allergens…not so much. No matter where you live in the state, from Dallas to Austin to San Antonio, you probably have to deal with some form of allergies. Dallas has been named among the “most challenging places to live with spring allergies,” according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,” said the Dallas Morning News. Then there’s Austin, “with its much-hyped cedar fever” from the ashe juniper trees. Ragweed and pollen-producing plants throughout the state are also an issue.
That probably means you sneeze or cough with some regularity at least at some point of the year. The act of turning your head to sneeze can worsen the muscle contractions caused by the sneezing. And that’s enough to cause back strain or even a muscle pull. Are you at risk for a serious injury like the one above? Probably not. But when sneezing can cause injury and “a severe cough can result in low back strain,” said WebMD, you have two very good reasons to look into allergy medicine.
You know that old saying about Texas that if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes? It’s often true, and the changes in weather can wreak havoc on your back.
“Blame it on the barometric pressure: Any change in pressure, or the weight of the air pressing against the surface of the earth, can trigger joint pain or headaches in some people,” said The Weather Channel. That’s particularly important for those suffering from arthritis.
Cold weather can also worsen a sore back if your back muscles, as well as ligaments and tendons, tighten up. The less flexibility you have, the more likely you are to injure yourself. Add in some of the necessary tasks that are often associated with weather or changing seasons, like shoveling snow, raking leaves, and gardening, and it’s easy to see how your back can pay the price.
According to The Atlantic, “The American commuter spends 38 hours a year stuck in traffic.” And, in Dallas, that number is closer to 50. It’d be challenging to find someone who says they like all that time behind the wheel. But for those with spine pain, it can be downright dreadful. Trying to stay relaxed behind the wheel instead of “gritting your teeth and strangling your steering wheel while stuck in traffic,” said Men’s Health, can help. So can sitting close enough to the wheel so that you don’t have extend your legs, which can strain your back, adjusting the lumbar support, and turning on your seat heater, if you have one.
There’s just too much good stuff in Texas. Between the Tex-Mex, the steaks, and the chicken fried steak (We’re hungry just thinking about it!), it can be hard to watch what you eat. And that can prove dangerous for a number of health reasons. “A diet high in calories and fat can make you gain weight,” said the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). “Too much weight can stress the back and cause pain.” And, it can also go hand-in-hand with poor physical fitness. “Back pain is more common in people who are not fit,” they said.
So much to do
With the vast recreation, the live music, all the sporting events, the variety of shopping, and all the large and small cities and quaint little towns worth exploring in Texas, it can be hard to sit still here. But if you’ve been suffering with back pain, it may be necessary to take it easy for a while. Managing spine pain can sometimes mean pulling back from the things you enjoy, like hobbies, athletic endeavors, and traveling. It might also mean time off of work, if you have a serious condition like spinal stenosis.
For more information, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain. Subscribe to Back Stories to stay up to date on all the latest posts.