Often, back and neck pain are seen as problems that only affect older adults. While it’s true that more instances of back and neck pain occur as people get older, it’s also true that spinal pain does not discriminate. In fact, there seem to be pain patterns that are more common among younger adults. Here, we outline some of the factors that have been associated with the rise in neck and back pain in the millennial age group.
- The work environment. Compared to the Baby Boomer population, millennials are much more likely to work from home. This is because technology has dramatically changed work-related tasks and enabled people to accomplish their duties with nothing more than a computer and internet access. With more millennials working from home, the achievement of an ergonomic workspace is limited.
- Smartphones. Oh, how we love our smartphones! This is not reserved for millennials, people of all ages tend to rely heavily on their devices. This reliance involves a head-forward, downward-tilted posture that places more stress on the cervical spine than is normal.
- Sports. Youth sports have existed for decades and provided a sense of community, an outlet, and also physical and mental rewards for meeting challenges. Years ago, a young person was likely to participate in multiple sports throughout the year. Today, a large majority of youth athletes specialize in a given sport. This has increased due to the prevalence of travel teams and the near-elimination of an off-season. With ongoing stress and repetitive body movements, doctors are seeing more unique orthopedic and spinal injuries among young people.
The millennial population is not as young as it once was. This generation is in the 30-year-old range, so is more susceptible to degenerative conditions they once associated with their parents and grandparents. If you would describe yourself as part of the millennial generation, know that your daily habits now will matter 10 years from now, 20 years from now. Maintaining a healthy weight and active lifestyle can go a long way in reducing the risks of conditions like degenerative disc disease.