5 Common Back Pain Causes

Back pain is a very common problem in the United States and around the world. More people miss work for back pain than for any other ailment. Almost everyone experiences back pain from time to time, and many have chronic back pain problems.

Fortunately, a few simple measures can prevent or reduce most occurrences of back pain. Home remedies as well as proper body alignment and movements usually heal the pain within a matter of weeks. Surgery is rarely necessary for back pain.

Sometimes, the cause of back pain is vague. Physicians may order imaging studies to identify the cause. Several health conditions are associated with back pain. Muscle strains, herniated disks, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and skeletal abnormalities are five common back pain causes.

Muscle Strains

Strained back muscles top the list of most common back pain causes. Heavy lifting, sudden motions and awkward movements can strain the muscles and ligaments of the spine. For people who are not fit and healthy, constant strains can produce annoying, painful muscle spasms.

Herniated Disks

Herniated disks, also known as bulging or ruptured disks, are among the most common back pain causes. Spinal disks serve as cushions between the vertebrae or bones of the spine. Occasionally, the soft gel-like material inside a disk may rupture and press on a spinal nerve. This pressure can lead to back pain.


Arthritis is a common medical condition that affects the joints. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, generally affects the lower back. For some people, arthritis in the spine causes the space around the spinal cord to narrow. This cause of back pain, called spinal stenosis, is usually related to aging.


Osteoporosis is another common cause of back pain. This condition causes bones to become weak, porous and brittle. Brittle bones can result in compression fractures along the spine, which leads to back pain. For those with osteoporosis, even coughing and bending can cause a fracture and produce pain.

Skeletal Abnormalities

Skeletal abnormalities are among the top back pain causes. Spinal curvatures and other skeletal irregularities can cause pain for some people. Scoliosis, a condition that curves the spine to the side, typically leads to back pain only in severe cases.

Risk Factors

While some back pain causes are related to aging, the pain can affect anyone at any age. Even children and teenagers are at risk. Physical fitness, weight management and proper lifting help reduce the risk. Psychological health seems to play a role too, as back pain is sometimes linked to depression and anxiety.

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