Your back is a very complex structure. It is made from bones, joints, nerves and muscles, and this can sometimes make it harder to identify the exact cause of any back pain you may feel. “Back pain” isn’t a diagnosis; it is just a symptom of a medical condition.
The majority of back pain problems are caused by irritated or pinched nerves and minor injuries, sprains and strains. Pain can be triggered by the simplest of things at home, at work or whilst doing leisure activities. The list can include:
- Sitting for too long in your armchair or at your work desk.
- Working for hours on a computer and slouching without realizing it.
- Twisting awkwardly.
- Standing for too long, especially in one spot.
- Pulling, pushing, lifting or carrying heavy objects.
- Driving for too long without breaks or slouching while driving.
- Using your muscles too much in sport or activities where you do repetitive movements. This can also lead to repetitive strain injury (RSI).
You can have back pain for no apparent reason. You may wake up, get out of bed and feel a sudden painful twinge. The medical conditions that cause back pain fall into one of the following categories.
Mechanical problems. This refers to the way your spine moves, how you feel when you move in a specific way. Intervertebral disc degeneration is the most common cause of pain in this category. The discs between your vertebrae can age and break down, thereby losing some of their cushioning ability. Other causes of mechanical pain are ruptured discs, muscle tightness and spasms.
Acquired conditions. There are a few medical conditions that can cause back pain. Scoliosis causes the spine to curve, but it doesn’t get painful until mid-life. Arthritis can lead to back pain as well; this includes rheumatism, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis (the spinal cord narrows and pressures the nerves and cord) and ankylosing spondylitis.
Osteoporosis can cause painful fractures in the vertebrae. Kidney stones, pregnancy, endometriosis and fibromyalgia can all cause pain in various parts of the back.
Injuries. You can have fractures or sprains that may cause pain in your back. You may have a fall and land in a wrong position which may “jar” the back, causing pain throughout the entire body.
Tumors and infections. Tumors rarely cause back pain, but they have to be included on the list. They often start as cancer in other parts of the body, and then move to the back over time. Infections aren’t commonly known to cause back pain, but osteomyelitis occurs if the vertebrae are involved, while discitis occurs if the discs in the back cause pain. These disks cushion the vertebrae and protect them from pain most of the time, but they can wear out.
Stress is an emotional cause of back pain, because it makes your muscles tense up and cause pain. If you don’t get good quality sleep, the stress gets worse and causes even more pain.
Pain can be very debilitating, but your doctor can prescribe treatment that will reduce and even eliminate pain completely. People can generally cope with short-term pain, but chronic or severe pain can be crippling and stressful. If you have pain, don’t ignore it. Seek qualified help today to stop further problems from occurring; they won’t be as easy to fix.