The Different Causes of Back Pain

Back pain is a common malady affecting most people at some point in life. It is not a medical condition in and of itself, but it is a symptom of another problem. The various causes of back pain are outlined below.

Fractures and Sprains

Injuries to the back are often a source of pain. Sprains and fractures can be a transient event or cause chronic issues. A back sprain is the result of ligaments that have been torn due to an improper lifting motion or twisting in an unnatural manner. Osteoporosis can cause vertebrae to become fractured through weakness and instability. In other cases, back pain can be caused by more serious injuries that result from falling or being in an accident.

Mechanical Issues

When the back has a mechanical problem, it causes pain when it is moved around in different ways. Intervertebral disc degeneration is one of the causes of back pain due to aging. This condition occurs when the discs in the spinal cord begin to break down and lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The facet joints, which act as connectors between vertebrae, can become worn down resulting in pain. Other mechanical problems include muscle tightness, spasms, and ruptured or herniated discs.

Tumor Growth and Infections

Infections in the spine are not common, but they can cause pain, especially in cases of discitis or osteomyelitis. Discitis affects the discs between vertebrae while osteomyelitis affects the vertebrae itself. When a tumor grows in the back, it is usually because there is cancer in another location that has begun to spread.

Other Conditions

Scoliosis, arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, spondylolisthesis and stenosis of the spine are all major but less common causes of back pain. Osteoarthritis does not cause pain, but the fractures it brings on will. Other medical conditions that result in back pain are kidney stones and pregnancy as well as endometriosis, which occurs when tissue from the uterus grows in areas outside the womb. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome of muscle pain and extreme fatigue that can also affect the back. It should be noted that stress can contribute to existing back pain, making it more severe and long-lasting. Anxiety and depression, along with insomnia, can also make back pain much worse.

Scheduling an appointment with a doctor and getting a complete physical is the best way to determine the causes of back pain. In most cases, the problem is easily treatable, and life can return to normal.


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