What is usually the cause of back pain?

Back pain is one of the main causes of people missing work in the United States. Bad posture, injury and the loss of bone density that comes with age are some of the conditions that contribute to why so many people’s backs are killing them. Here is a more detailed study of why.

First, there are two basic types of back pain. Back pain that starts all of a sudden and lasts less than six weeks is called acute back pain. Back pain that goes on for three months or more is chronic back pain. Most people who have back pain suffer from the acute form.

Ruptured Discs

Most of the vertebrae in the spinal column are protected from each other by discs. These discs have a gel-like interior within a tougher outer layer. Sometimes these discs rupture, which can cause pain when they press on a spinal nerve. Vertebral discs also degenerate with age, become less supple and may start to shrink. This can also lead them to press against a nerve. Interestingly, sometimes herniated discs don’t cause pain at all and are only discovered when the patient has an X-ray for other reasons.

Spinal Stenosis

This is when the canal in the spine that carries the spinal cord starts to narrow. This can cause the vertebrae to compress the nerve and cause not only back pain but numbness in the shoulders and the legs.

Sprains, Strains and Fractures

Sprains are when the ligaments found in the back are stretched or torn, while strains are when muscles or tendons have been stretched or torn. Fractures to the vertebrae can occur with falls or other types of accidents. Compression fractures can even be caused by osteoporosis, which can happen when an aging person, especially a woman, loses bone density.

Inflammation of the Sacroiliac Joint

This is the joint that joins the spine to the pelvis. Unlike most other joints in the body, it does not move very much because it exists to transfer the stresses of the upper body to the legs. Sometimes the cartilage in this joint can swell and become inflamed because of an injury. Like other joints, the sacroiliac joint is also subject to arthritis, which can lead to back pain.

Abnormal Spine Curvature

Pain can result if the spine curves in an abnormal way. This can be seen in:

• scoliosis, a condition where the spine curves to the side in an S shape.

• kyposis, where the spine curves outward

• lordosis, where the spine curves inward

Kidney Disease

An infection of the kidney or kidney stones can lead to pain in the back. This is usually accompanied by painful urination and fever.


Being overweight or obese puts too much stress on the muscles and ligaments in the back, which can lead to pain.

Spinal Cord Injury

With a spinal cord injury there is not only a sudden backache but incontinence, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet and difficulty moving an arm or a leg.

Wearing High Heels

Though lots of women feel underdressed if they don’t go out in high heels, the fact is that high heels lead to poor weight distribution. This puts a strain on the lower back, which leads to backache.

Tumors on the Spine

Tumors on the spine, whether they are primary or have metastasized from another part of the body, can cause back pain.

Cauda equina

The cauda equina are a group of nerve roots at the bottom of the spinal cord that resemble a horse’s tail, thus its name. If these nerves er inflamed, they can cause pain and numbness in the lower back and the upper part of the buttocks.


This is a reawakening of the virus that causes chicken pox. In adults, the reawakened virus inflames the nerves which leads to pain in the back and other areas. Bad Posture

Bad posture or the wrong type of movement is a major cause of back pain. People can suffer back pain if they are forced to hunch over a computer or laptop for long periods because their chair is too high or too low. Back pain can result from standing or sitting too long and for not taking breaks on long drives. Mattresses that are too soft or too hard and do not give the body needed support can cause back pain. Even sneezing and coughing can lead to back pain.

If you want more information about back pain and how to prevent and treat it, don’t hesitate to call us today at 205-637-1363.

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