Our back represents a complex structure of bones, discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons that work together to support the body and make it possible for us to move around. A problem with any of these segments can result in back pain.

Among the causes of back pain there are distinguished structural problems, poor posture, strain and other medical conditions.

Structural problems:

A prolapsed disk. Each vertebra in the spinal column is cushioned with a fibrocartilaginous pad, known as intervertebral disc, which allows the spine to be flexible. When the disc bulges, it puts pressure on the nerve causing pain, weakness and tingling.

Ruptured disc. Similar to a prolapsed disc, when the disc ruptures, there appears more pressure on the nerve, causing back pain.

Sciatica. Irritation of the sciatic nerve may cause a severe, shooting pain that radiates down the leg from the lower back.

Ankylosing spondylitis. When joints of the spine become inflamed there appears pain and stiffness in the back that typically gets worse in the morning and improves with movement.

Osteoarthritis. Sometimes osteoarthritis affects the lower back and hips, which can lead to spinal stenosis or an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. This narrowing results in added pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, provoking pain, weakness or numbness, which gradually improve with bending forward.

Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis itself doesn’t cause pain, but when the density of the spinal bones decreases, the vertebral body weakens and can no longer withstand minor trauma, resulting in compression fractures.

Scoliosis. In most cases scoliosis is not painful. However, when the spinal column curves abnormally it may trigger chronic back, neck and rib pain.

Kidney disease. Since kidneys are located underneath the ribcage and toward the back, a kidney infection or a stone passing from the kidney can cause pain in one or both sides of the back.

Obesity. Overweight contributes to back pain because every excess pound adds a strain on the ligaments and muscles in the back. Obesity particularly aggravates problems in the lower back because the excess weight in the stomach pulls the pelvis forward and strains the lower back resulting in pain.

Poor posture:

Poor posture and everyday activities can overtime result in back pain. Among them are:

  • Bending awkwardly for long periods
  • Adopting a hunched sitting position when using computer
  • Sitting or on the contrary standing for long periods
  • Always straining the neck forward, for example, when driving
  • Lifting something, in particular something heavy, improperly
  • Sleeping on a bad mattress on in improper sleep position.

Strain:

  • Strained ligaments or muscles
  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle spasm
  • Falls, injuries and fractures – can all result in back pain.

Medical conditions:

Sometimes other health problems, such as spinal tumor, cauda equine syndrome, spinal infection, shingles, prostatitis, premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis and sleep disorders can provoke back pain.

Although back pain can affect people of all ages, as a rule, the chance of developing it increases with age due to certain factors like degenerative disk disorder or previous occupation. Therefore, it is better to avoid pain and prevent its recurrence by improving your physical condition, keeping your back strong by building muscle strength and flexibility, and practicing good body mechanics by maintaining proper posture throughout the day and lifting things smart.

It is also wise to quit smoking since it causes damage to the vascular structure of joints and discs in the low back.