The Main Causes of Back Pain

Updated on April 16, 2020

Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people miss work or visit the doctor. It is also a leading cause of disability in many people across the world. Back pain can be very uncomfortable and devastating.

Back pain can result from an injury, medical condition, or activity. It can affect anybody regardless of age. Even though back pain can be frustrating and debilitating, the good thing is that most of the episodes of back pain get better within a few weeks if you seek treatment early.

This article gives you some of the main causes of back pain, continue reading to learn more. 

1. Muscle strain or sprain

Muscle strain or sprain is one of the most common causes of back pain, especially in the lower back. A strain refers to the tearing of a muscle while a sprain refers to the tearing of a ligament. The common causes of sprain and strain include lifting heavy objects, poor posture, sitting or standing for a long time, falls, sports injuries, etc. The symptoms of these two include pain and stiffness in the lower back, and the pain can range from mild to debilitating. Rest and physical therapy are remedies for these symptoms.

2. Bulging and ruptured disc

The spinal discs serve as shock-absorbers. Several reasons such as weight gain, stress on the spine or the natural process of aging can all make the discs to worsen with time, making them become more susceptible to protruding outward or bulging. With time, if the bulging disc is not treated, it can eventually tear.

When the disc tears, it releases its inner content.  A torn disc is referred to as a herniated disc or ruptured disc. A ruptured disc in the back can cause back pain which may move down into the groin, buttocks or down one leg. Other than the pain, a ruptured disc can cause symptoms such as muscle weakness and numbness.

3. Sciatica

Sciatica refers to the compression of the sciatic nerve, usually caused by a herniated disc. Factors such as prolonged sitting, an injury or trauma to the pelvis, diabetes, etc., can all cause sciatica. Since the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, if it’s compressed, it may lead to lower back pain that travels through the buttock and down the legs.

4. Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis causes back pain in older people. As one gets older, the spinal canal gradually becomes narrowed due to osteoarthritis and the thickening of tissues in the spine. If the spinal canal becomes constricted, nerve roots may become compacted, causing neurological symptoms such as numbness, weakness, and tingling.  In severe cases of spinal stenosis, it may be required to visit a spine surgeon to undergo a back surgery to create additional space for the spinal cord or nerves.

5. Osteoporosis

It is the weakening of the bones, hence making them more vulnerable to breaking. Back pain as a result of osteoporosis is often related to the compression fracture of the vertebra. In most cases, with a compression fracture, the patient does not report a history of trauma but instead, reports back pain after a simple activity such as sneezing or bending over. The pain is usually felt in the middle of the back or the lower back and it worsens with motion. 

+ posts

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.