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Causes of Backpain: What Are The Primary Ones?

A woman sitting on a bed while touching her lower back

Pain in the back is a prevalent issue worldwide. It can significantly impact the quality of life of an individual. Various factors contribute to this. For instance, minor muscle strains are a primary reason. This often occurs due to overexertion or incorrect posture. Improper lifting of heavy objects can also stress the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to pain. In addition, more severe conditions like herniated discs or spinal arthritis are some more causes of backpain.

Weak bones and joints make people more prone to injury and aching. Hence, they should be taken care of. Understanding the reasons for the pain is crucial. It can help them take the necessary precautions to avoid or manage the condition. Moreover, they can find the most effective treatment for them. The following sections will present the key causes of pain in the back, such as as structural problems, inflammatory diseases, and underlying medical conditions.

Causes of Backpain – Mechanical and Structural Problems

Mechanical problems are some of the leading causes of backpain. A common one is muscle strain. This occurs when the muscles are stretched or torn. People who lift heavy objects, make sudden movements, or overexert during physical activities can experience this. Additionally, poor posture can put a strain on the back that results in pain. Thus, a correct sitting and standing posture is essential.

Additionally, structural problems lead to pain in the back. These are caused by an imbalance or instability in the vertebrae, muscles, ligaments, and/or discs. These issues can be a result of trauma from an accident or injury. An example is sciatica, which is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. There can be shooting pains that travel down from the lower back into one or both legs.

Backpain can be debilitating. It can limit abilities to perform simple daily activities. Mechanical and structural problems can lead to chronic pain, spasms, and limited range of motion. People should seek proper medical treatment to address it. Maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and practising good posture can help prevent and manage the pain.

Risk Factors for Back Injuries

  • Physical Exertion – Engaging in strenuous activities can strain the muscles and ligaments in the back.
  • Obesity – Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on the lumbar spine and supporting structures.
  • Age – The natural aging process can lead to degeneration of the spinal discs.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle – Lack of regular exercise weakens the muscles, which can make the pain worse.
  • Smoking – This reduces blood flow to the spinal discs, impairing their ability to provide adequate nutrition.
  • Occupational Hazards – These are certain professions that involve repetitive lifting, bending, or sitting for long periods.
  • Psychological Factors – Stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to pain by increasing muscle tension.

A person touching their back with one hand

Causes of Backpain – Inflammatory Diseases

Inflammatory diseases can be significant causes of backpain. One such condition is ankylosing spondylitis. This involves inflammation of the spinal joints. It can result in chronic pain and stiffness in the back. Another inflammatory disease that can affect the back is arthritis. Specifically, there is rheumatoid arthritis, which damages joints.

Moreover, fibromyalgia involves widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles and soft tissues of the body. It does not cause structural damage to joints, muscles, and bones. However, it can still be difficult to deal with. Fibromyalgia is often associated with other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and migraines. Professionals theorise that a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors causes it.

An inflammatory disease can have a significant impact on back health, as it involves chronic inflammation that affects the joints and tissues. It can lead to pain, swelling, and reduced mobility in the back. Consulting a doctor for diagnosis and appropriate treatment options is crucial. This can prevent further damage to the back and spine.

When to Seek Medical Help

Severe pain may be indicative of a more serious underlying condition. This is especially true if accompanied by other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or loss of bowel control. Medical help is crucial in these cases to rule out any serious conditions like compression fractures, spinal cord problems, or aortic aneurysms.

Additionally, if the pain persists for several weeks, it is advisable to see a healthcare provider. They can conduct a thorough physical examination, review medical history, and potentially order further tests to determine the cause. Early diagnosis and intervention can lead to more effective treatments and prevent the development of chronic pain.

A man touching his back with both hands

Causes of Backpain – Underlying Medical Conditions

Causes of backpain can vary. Underlying medical conditions can often be contributing factors. For example, herniated discs may be a reason. These are discs that have shifted out of place in the spine. They may press on nerves, causing pain. Degenerative disc disease is another one. The discs become weaker over time due to physical activity or age-related wear and tear.

Moreover, a condition that causes pain in the back is spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal. This can put pressure on the nerves in the lower back. Scoliosis is another one, as it causes an abnormal curvature of the spine. It can also lead to spasms or fatigue from having to overcompensate for the abnormal curvature of the spine.

Other underlying medical conditions that can cause backache include infection, kidney stones, and spinal tumours. In some cases, an aortic aneurysm may be a cause. This is a bulge in a blood vessel in the abdomen. If back pain is accompanied by intense pain or a loss of function, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment Options

When it comes to treating backache, there are several options available. For non-specific low back pain, conservative treatments are often the first line of defence. Lifestyle modifications are an example. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, practising good posture, and engaging in regular physical activity. Pain relief medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, may also be used.

The use of electrotherapy, like Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), is also a suitable choice. TENS is an alternative pain management option. It safely and non-invasively blocks pain signals that typically travel to the brain. This drug-free treatment helps with acute pain and chronic pain conditions.


The causes of backpain include muscle strain, poor posture and spinal stenosis. In addition, diseases such as fibromyalgia, infections, and tumours can be a reason. Underlying medical conditions like herniated discs, kidney stones, and scoliosis can also be linked to the pain. Some risk factors heighten the possibility of backpain. This could be being overweight, aging, and smoking. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits and seeking help when necessary can all help prevent or manage the pain.

Pain can hinder people from doing their everyday tasks. Therefore, treatments such as painkillers are essential. Alternative methods, like TENS, are also beneficial. This is especially true for individuals who prefer not to take drugs due to the associated adverse side effects. They can undergo therapy sessions at hospitals or therapy centres. However, they can also buy a personal TENS unit through online sites or physical stores such as pharmacies or drugstores.

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