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Quiz: Are your daily habits causing back pain?

May 23, 2017

Medical experts suggest in a new Consumer Report that back pain has plagued humans “ever since we started walking on two feet.”

What we know today is that back and neck pain affect 80 to 85 percent of the adult population. Causes range from a trauma, such as a fall or car accident, to poor posture to repetitive motion to weak muscles. 

Peter Rippey, M.D., Family and Sports Medicine, at St. Joseph’s/Candler Physician Network – Bluffton, treats patients every day for complaints of back pain. His recommended treatments include stretching, heat/ice, walking, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. 

In February, the American College of Physicians issued new guidelines for back pain treatment, saying the first line of defense should be non-drug measures, such as yoga, tai chi, massage or physical therapy.

St. Joseph’s/Candler has six outpatient rehabilitation centers that can help patients find the root of their back pain. Click here to find the one nearest to you. A physician’s referral is required to see a physical therapist.

Read: The dos and don’ts when dealing with back pain

If you are trying to avoid or limit back pain, Dr. Rippey says it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly including core strengthening, maintain good posture and practice good lifting techniques.

So are you currently practicing good back habits? Open your phone’s calculator or grab a pen and scrap piece of paper and take our quiz to find out if your daily habits could cause future back problems:

1. How old are you?

  • Under 30 – add 0
  • 30-39 – add 1
  • 40-65 – add 2
  • Over 65 – add 3

2. Do you smoke?

  • Yes – add 1
  • No – add 0

3. Are you overweight?

  • No – add 0
  • If yes and
    • 0-5 pounds overweight – add 1
    • 6-10 pounds overweight – add 2
    • 16-20 pounds overweight – add 4
    • More than 20 pounds overweight – add 5

4. How often do you exercise?

  • O times per week – add 3
  • 1 time per week – add 2
  • 2 times per week – add 1
  • 3 times per week – add 0
  • 4-7 times per week – deduct 1

5. How often do you lift heavy objects? (over 50 pounds)

  • 0 times per month – add 0
  • 1-2 times per month – add 1
  • 3-4 times per month – add 2
  • 5-6 times per month – add 3
  • 7-8 times per month – add 4
  • More than 8 times per month – add 5

6. Have you already experienced back pain?

  • Yes – add 3
  • No – add 0



0 – Congratulations! You are doing what you can to prevent spine pain.

1-4 Low risk – You are doing many things right to prevent spine pain

5-8 Potential risk – You should change some habits

9-12 Moderate risk – See a doctor/healthcare professional to learn more about prevention.

13-16 Significant risk – You need to change habits now to prevent spine pain.

17-20 Serious risk – Spine pain is likely. Talk to your healthcare provider soon to learn how you can adjust your habits to lower your risk. 



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