Health | Did You Know

7 Weird Side Effects Of Chronic Back Conditions

Starts At 60 / Chianese Dental

A few years ago I was experiencing a lot of shoulder pain, and it eventually got so bad that I paid my doctor a visit.

I was surprised when he gave me the once over and told me my shoulder was perfectly fine.

The cause of my pain was actually my shoulder blade. My bad posture and cell phone addiction had strained a muscle in my back, and I was just feeling the pain in an unusual way.  

Like that song we learned in kindergarten said, all the parts of our body are connected, and signs of serious, chronic back conditions can show up almost anywhere.

1. Migraine Headaches

Mislav Marohnic - Flickr

Do you get these blistering headaches? The CDC says that just under 10% of men and 20% of women in America experience them.

The tricky thing about migraines is they have so many triggers, it can be hard to pinpoint what's causing yours.

But studies show that a surprising number of patients with migraines and tension headaches get relief from back treatments like spinal manipulation.

It seems that over time, bad posture strains the muscles in your neck, which causes chronic headaches.

Next time you have a migraine, try realigning your neck with some simple exercises and see if your pain goes away.

2. Fibromyalgia


This condition is widespread, but still not very well understood. Patients with fibromyalgia describe feeling sensitivity and pain in multiple places on their bodies.

Because fibromyalgia disrupts a patient's sleep schedule and affects their mood, it's sometimes treated as an emotional or psychological condition.

But treatments for nerves and soft tissue in the back often help with symptoms of fibromyalgia.

In one study, 60% of people who visited a chiropractor noticed improvements to their pain, sleep schedule, and chronic fatigue.

While seeing a medical professional could help, gentle stretching can also help control your symptoms.

3. Arm Pain And Numbness

Arm pain
Hawaii Public Health

When it strikes suddenly, arm pain and numbness is usually a sign that you're having a heart attack, and need to see a doctor.

But if you've been living with arm pain, weakness, and numbness for months, your back could be causing the issue.

A condition called cervical radiculopath, also known as a pinched nerve, can cause cause weakness and pain in your limbs.

On the other hand, older patients who notice numbness in their arms should check if it's caused by arthritis.

4. Jaw Pain

Jaw pain

Doctors are already warning the younger generation to look out for "text neck," or pain caused by bad posture and cell phone use.

But leaning forward can also cause chronic jaw pain, and it's not just tech-savvy teenagers who are at risk.

As we lean forward, our brain tries to correct our position by leaning our forehead backwards. This awkward position strains our jaw muscles and causes lasting damage.

If you already have bad biting posture, cavities, or a condition like TMJ, the aggravated muscles can create serious pain.

5. Leg Pain And Numbness

Leg pain
Mountcastle Vein Centers

By a quirk of our bodies, damage in our lower back can often be felt more in our legs and feet.

The longer the pain goes untreated, the more damage it does to your body, making your posture worse and compounding the damage.

Because of differences in hormones and bone density, women are more likely to experience degenerative spondylolisthesis, or a slipped vertebra.

This condition causes pain, weakness, and numbness in the legs and rear end. Worst of all, it can strike either while sitting or standing.

Don't write off leg pain or legs giving out as the usual aches and pains of aging.

6. Loss Of Bladder Control

Jeff Barton - Flickr

It's true that as we get older, both men and women have to "go" more often, and have trouble going.

But there are also common back conditions that cause bladder weakness and leaking.

Spinal stenosis is the usual culprit, and it can also causes numbness and cramping in the legs, feat, and rear end, along with incontinence.

If you think your bladder leakage is connected to a back condition, see a doctor immediately. This is a dangerous side effect that usually requires surgery.

7. Stress


Yes, of course any type of pain is likely to cause stress.

But many patients underestimate their chronic back conditions, chalking their pain up to the usual wear and tear of the workday.

If you notice you feel constantly fatigued, upset, and anxious, it could be because of your sore back.

Chronic pain triggers your "fight or flight" response, flushing your body with stress hormones.

Over time, this can add to your list of medical troubles, causing weight gain and dangerous increases in blood pressure.

Get to the doctor, try some light exercise, or do some gentle stretches. But don't ignore your chronic back pain!

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[H/T: US News & World Report, Disc]

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