How does modern lifestyle affect pain?

5 min. read

The fast pace of life and advanced technology have a strong impact on our everyday lives. Technological advancements have boosted exponential growth in productivity, which, unfortunately, often comes at the expense of our free time. With all the stimuli and novelties, it is sometimes impossible to truly relax. This can lead to health conditions accompanied by different types of acute pain that can sometimes develop into chronic pain. Long-term solutions are not simple, and require a change in lifestyle and well-established behavioural patterns. Since lifestyle is a combination of variables, we have to look at individual causative factors that can lead to pain.


Sitting and lower back pain

While at the end of the last century everyone was aware of the harmful effects of smoking, today we devote close attention to the risks of prolonged sitting. The vast majority of people in developed countries spend a significant part of their time at work in a sedentary position. This is especially the case in larger cities, and less in rural areas.1 The human spine is not designed to sit for long periods. Sitting for too long can cause pain in different parts of the back and neck.2

Screen time: a necessary evil

Screens are something that we cannot entirely avoid. Computers are indispensable for most office work, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, when many meetings moved to a virtual environment. Prolonged eye strain due to computer work together with insufficient lighting causes headaches.3 These are worsened by the sedentary position, which causes tension in the neck and is associated with pain in the lower back.4

Lack of sleep, stress and pain

Stress contributes to the development of most diseases of modern times and is closely related to pain. Pain causes stress, which through inflammation again causes pain that leads to even more stress.7 Moreover, both pain and stress affect sleep. Almost every third adult experiences occasional sleep problems, and every tenth has chronic sleep problems. Chronic insomnia also causes health problems and pain.5 This is due to the close connection between lack of sleep and inflammation. When we lack sleep, more inflammatory factors are released, and inflammation is the main cause of (chronic) pain. Prolonged lack of sleep leads to chronic inflammation, which can cause pain to develop or worsen.5, 6 It is therefore important to break the vicious cycle of stress, sleep deprivation and pain before the problems become chronic.

Light at the end of the tunnel

At some point in life, everyone will experience pain. The best way to overcome it in the long term is to tackle it systematically and comprehensively. If you sit most of the day at work, make sure to exercise enough in free time. This means at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.8 Follow the 20-20 rule when using screens: take a 20 second break every 20 minutes to look at a distant object. Make sure to have at least seven hours of quality sleep per night. To relieve pain, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as naproxen (Nalgesin S), which are available in pharmacies without a prescription. They quickly and effectively reduce pain and help break the vicious cycle of pain caused by our modern lifestyle.


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