What Are the Common Causes of Back Pain?

Did you know that as much as 80 percent of the population suffers from lower back pain from time to time? Why is back pain so common? The back is a complex structure, with 33 vertebrae and 30 plus muscles, along with numerous ligaments, joints, and intervertebral discs. With so many structures, it’s easy for one of them to be injured or affected, causing back pain symptoms. What are the common causes of back pain?

  • One of the most common causes of lower back pain is a torn or pulled muscle or ligament. This can happen slowly or suddenly, but a strain happens when a muscle is damaged by stretching too far, and a sprain is the result of that over-stretching and tearing affecting ligaments. These injuries can happen when you lift a heavy object, move suddenly in a way that stresses the low back, like a fall, have chronically poor posture, or sustain a sports injury.
  • Bulging or herniated spinal discs can also result in back pain. Disc herniation is associated with the natural aging process, but it can also happen because of an injury. Sometimes it’s not symptomatic, but in other cases it can compress the spinal nerve and cause pain. Sciatica is an example of radicular pain, caused by the compression of nerves.
  • Spinal stenosis is a cause of back pain that is most common in people over 50 years old. It’s a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the nerves, and is caused by a number of things, including arthritis and thickened ligaments.
  • Arthritis happens when cartilage begins to degenerate in the discs and joints. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, and often impacts the joints of the spine. The result is inflammation, swelling, and stiffness, which all can cause pain. As the disease progresses it can lead to things like bone spurs, thickened ligaments, and spinal stenosis.
  • Osteoporosis is a bone weakening disease that is sometimes associated with back pain. It occurs most frequently in women and is characterized by the progressive loss of bone density. This can lead to broken bones and painful vertebral compression fractures.
  • Fibromyalgia causes multiple sites of pain, including the back. If you have experienced three months or more of widespread pain and tenderness in eleven or more of the eighteen tender points affected by fibromyalgia, talk to your doctor to determine if this is a concern for you.

How can you prevent lower back pain? First, maintain healthy posture, keeping your back in a neutral position when standing or sitting. You can do exercises to help strengthen your back muscles and improve your posture, and if you work a desk job, make sure to stand up and stretch every 20 minutes or so. When you have time, you may also benefit from some stretches to alleviate back pain. Lift with your legs instead of your back, using proper form, and don’t carry heavy objects on one side of your body, because this can throw off your spinal alignment. Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent back pain issues, too. If you’re suffering from back pain, try some home remedies like over-the-counter medication or anti-inflammatory foods. Don’t smoke, and consider switching your mattress if your back hurts. It’s also smart to find a good doctor to provide you with appropriate back pain treatment.

At Greater Maryland Pain Management, we’re committed to helping you overcome the pain that keeps you from living life to the fullest. Our board-certified, award-winning Interventional Pain Management physician has helped thousands of people with pain to significantly improve their quality of life, and we pride ourselves in treating each patient with the care and compassion we’d show our own loved ones. We have multiple locations and schedule appointments quickly, sometimes even on the same day, so call (410) 672-2255 or contact us for a consultation.