Do you have back pain? Well, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the reasons why people need to see a doctor or miss work for days. It’s estimated that around 75-85% of Americans will suffer from some form of back pain in their lifetime. So what causes back pain?
Everyone can experience pain in the back, even school-age children can have it. Back pain is commonly caused by strenuous activities and injuries while some are caused by mechanical issues and medical conditions. The intensity of the pain can range from a persistent dull ache to an instantaneous sharp pain. Back pain can be very painful and debilitating but it’s only temporary in most cases and the pain disappears without the need for surgery.
Types of back pain:
Acute - A short-term back pain that only lasts for a few days or weeks. It has a tendency to get resolved on its own after a few days of rest and self-care. This is usually caused by sudden strain or injury to the ligaments and muscles that support the back.
Chronic - Is the pain that goes on for twelve weeks and beyond, even after the primary cause has been treated. Chronic back pain is mostly age-related but some are caused by injuries or underlying medical conditions.
Possible causes of back pain
Congenital abnormalities of the spine such as:
Congenital scoliosis - An unnatural curvature of the spine that affects newborns or infants.
Lordosis - An extreme inward arch of the spine.
Kyphosis - An exaggerated outward curve of the spine.
Spina bifida - This is a kind of neural tube defect wherein the baby’s spine and spinal cord do not form completely while in the womb which causes a gap in the spine.
Symptoms may vary but could include:
Bathroom problems like diarrhea and constipation
Sprains - overstressed or torn ligaments
Strains - Ruptured tendons or muscle tears.
Spasm - A sudden, involuntary contraction of one or more muscles.
Physical injury - An injury caused by outside forces like an accident, falling, or playing sports that can harm the muscles, ligaments, or tendons. Traumatic injuries can also cause the spine to compress and make the discs rupture or stick out.
Spondylosis - The changes that occur in the bones and discs of the spine that are related to age.
Intervertebral disc disease - Another age-related condition where one or more discs start to break down or degenerate.
Inflammatory diseases of the spine - Inflammatory back pain includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, enteropathic arthropathy, and arthritis that are related to inflammatory bowel disease.
Spinal Cord and nerve conditions:
Injury, compression, or inflammation of the spinal nerve.
Sciatica - A common type of nerve pain that affects the sciatic nerve.
Spondylolisthesis - This occurs when a lower spine vertebra slips out from its position and lodges onto the vertebra beneath it.
Spinal stenosis - This happens when the spinal column narrows and puts pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord.
Osteoporosis - This disease causes the bones to gradually become weak and brittle that can lead to excruciating fractures.
Herniated discs - This occurs when a part of the nucleus bulges and presses on a nerve.
Osteomyelitis - An infection that occurs in a bone. It can cause back pain when the vertebrae are infected.
Discitis - Another bone infection wherein the discs are infected.
Sacroiliitis - This happens when one or both of your sacroiliac joints are inflamed.
Lower back pain
Pregnancy - Back pain or backache is very common during pregnancy when the ligaments become soft and stretch in preparation for giving birth. This puts a strain on the lower back and pelvis joints.
Tumors - Tumor can grow along the spinal bone and this can compress or even destroy the spinal cord or nerves.
Kidney stones - Back pain caused by kidney stones is almost always severe and pain is usually on just one side of the lower back.
Fibromyalgia - This is a chronic pain illness that affects the muscles and soft tissues.
Endometriosis - Back pain is one of the most common symptoms that women experience when they have endometriosis wherein bits of the uterine lining buildup outside of the uterus.
Risk factors of developing back pain:
Age - Back pain usually occurs from the age of 30 onwards. It becomes more common as a person advances in age.
Physical fitness - Health plays a big part in the development of back pain. An unhealthy person is most likely to experience back pain.
Excess weight -Having extra weight can add extra pressure on the spine and lead to low back pain.
Genes - Some conditions that cause back pain such as ankylosing spondylitis have a genetic factor.
Work-related - Having a job that involves lifting, pulling, and pushing heavy things. Sitting or standing for long hours also contributes to having back pain.
Sleeping position - Poor sleeping positions can cause you to have back pain when you wake up in the morning.
Mental condition - Your mental health can directly affect how you perceive the severity of the pain.
Smoking - Blood flow and oxygen to the vertebral discs are restricted when a person smokes. This causes the discs to degenerate faster.
Poor posture - This can cause the pressure on your spine to be distributed unevenly which can weaken the lower back tissues.
There are numerous ways to alleviate back pain such as eating right, boosting your energy, exercising, managing stress, having a good posture, and many more. Living a healthier and happier life is crucial to being pain-free.