Newbridge Blog

Topics relating to Pain Prevention, Treating Pain & Pain Management

What Causes Back Pain?

The following conditions may result in back pain:

Strains, Sprains and Spasms: The most common cause of back pain is an injury to a muscle (strain) or a ligament (sprain). Strains and sprains can occur for many reasons, including improper lifting, excess body weight and poor posture. Strains and sprains can also develop from hauling around a heavy handbag or sleeping at an awkward angle. As a pivot point for turning at the waist, the lower back is especially vulnerable to muscle strains. Sometimes a strain or sprain causes immediate back pain. In other cases, soreness and stiffness come later. An injured muscle may also “knot up.” This muscle spasm is your body’s way of immobilizing the affected area to prevent further damage.

Osteoarthritis: As people age, the disks that act as cushions between the vertebrae become flatter and less flexible. Without the cushioning that these disks normally provide, the joints (facets) between vertebrae press tightly against each other. This can cause back pain and stiffness. Your body may try to compensate for these changes by building new bone (spurs) to support the area where loading pressure is increased. Because osteoarthritis usually develops over many years of physical activity, it’s known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis. Obesity and injury to a joint are other risk factors for osteoarthritis.

Herniated Disk: Normal wear and tear over time can cause one of the disks in your spine to rupture (herniate). Exceptional strain or traumatic injury can have the same effect. Many people describe this as a “slipped” disk. Back pain results when the herniated disk pinches one of the nerves that come out of the spinal cord. If the sciatic nerve is affected, you may develop sciatica – a sharp, shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks and leg.

Osteoporosis: As you age, the amount of calcium in your bones decreases. This lowers the density or mass of your bones, making them porous and brittle — a condition known as osteoporosis. What does osteoporosis have to do with back pain? Plenty. If you have osteoporosis, daily lifting and other routine activities can cause low back pain by fracturing the front part of the weakened bones. These are known as compression fractures. A fall can have the same effect.

Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by fatigue and widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons — including the lower back. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia usually includes a history of at least three months of widespread muscle pain accompanied by pain and tenderness in at least 11 of the 18 “tender points” in your body