Lack of exercise and good nutrition, smoking, and drinking are all factors of ones lifestyle that may cause or contribute to low back pain.

People suffering from lower back pain who smoke, drink, are depressed or are obese may be able to ease their agony by making some lifestyle changes, a new study suggests.

“If you have lower back pain that is not explained by a spinal problem but is more of a muscle pain, things like obesity, alcohol abuse, smoking and depression, factors that you can affect, can be contributing to it,” explained lead researcher Dr. Scott Shemory. Of all these risks, obesity is most obviously associated with back pain, he said. “It puts stress on all the joints and the lower back as well,” he said. Also, smoking can decrease blood flow, which can also contribute to pain, he said.

As for depression, it might contribute to the pain. On the other hand, lower back pain might contribute to depression, Shemory said. The same can be said for alcohol dependence, he added.

Modifying Lifestyle May Ease Low Back PainHowever, Shemory said that these problems might cause people to be less physically active, which can increase pain. But altering these behaviors can improve your overall health and may reduce lower back pain, he noted. However, the study only showed an association between these factors and lower back pain, not a cause-and-effect link.

Shemory said there are no really effective treatments for lower back pain not caused by a disk problem or pressure on the spinal nerve.

“That’s why preventing lower back pain is so important,” he said. “In many cases, people just have to live with their pain.”

The findings were to be presented this week at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons annual meeting, in Las Vegas. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. For the study, Shemory and his colleagues reviewed data on 26 million people, 1.2 million of whom had lower back pain. Overall, 4 percent suffered from the condition. Lower back pain was most common among smokers (16.5 percent), alcohol-dependent drinkers (almost 15 percent), obese people (close to 17 percent) and those suffering from depression (slightly over 19 percent).

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