What are the causes of back pain?

Causes of back pain The human back is composed of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks and bones – the segments of our spine are cushioned with cartilage-like pads. Problems with any of these components can lead to back pain. In some cases of back pain, its cause is never found.

Causes of muscle tension

  • Strained muscles
  • Strained ligaments
  • Lifting something improperly
  • Lifting something that is too heavy
  • The result of an abrupt and awkward movement
  • A muscle spasm

 

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Structural problems

The following structural problems may also result in back pain:

  • Ruptured disks – each vertebra in our spine is cushioned by disks. If the disk ruptures there will be more pressure on a nerve, resulting in back pain.
  • Bulging disks – in much the same way as ruptured disks, a bulging disk can result in more pressure on a nerve.
  • Sciatica – a sharp and shooting pain that travels through the buttock and down the back of the leg, caused by a bulging or herniated disk pressing on a nerve.
  • Arthritis – patients with osteoarthritis commonly experience problems with the joints in the hips, lower back, knees and hands. In some cases spinal stenosis can develop – the space around the spinal cord narrows.
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine – if the spine curves in an unusual way the patient is more likely to experience back pain. An example is scoliosis, when the spine curves to the side.
  • Osteoporosis – bones, including the vertebrae of the spine, become brittle and porous, making compression fractures more likely.

 

See also: “Treatments For Back Pain

 

Other causes of back pain

  • Cauda equina syndrome – the cauda equine is a bundle of spinal nerve roots that arise from the lower end of the spinal cord. People with cauda equine syndrome feel a dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks, as well as analgesia (lack of feeling) in the buttocks, genitalia and thigh. There are sometimes bowel and bladder function disturbances.
  • Cancer of the spine – a tumor located on the spine may press against a nerve, resulting in back pain.
  • Infection of the spine – if the patient has an elevated body temperature (fever) as well as a tender warm area on the back, it could be caused by an infection of the spine.
  • Other infections – pelvic inflammatory disease (females), bladder or kidney infections.
  • Sleep disorders – individuals with sleep disorders are more likely to experience back pain, compared to others.
  • Shingles – an infection that can affect the nerves.
  • Bad mattress – if a mattress does not support specific parts of the body and keep the spine straight, there is a greater risk of developing back pain.

 

Back Pain Causes

 

Everyday activities or poor posture

Back pain can also be the result of some everyday activity or poor posture. Examples include:

    • Bending awkwardly
    • Pushing something
    • Pulling something
    • Carrying something
    • Lifting something
    • Standing for long periods
    • Bending down for long periods
    • Twisting
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Muscle tension
    • Over-stretching
    • Sitting in a hunched position for long periods (e.g. when driving)
    • Long driving sessions without a break (even when not hunched).