It is prudent to know that back pain is merely a symptom of a bigger problem, not the main problem itself. For example, back pain can be commonly caused during rigorous physical activity, and it is the activity that is the main problem, not the back pain itself.
Below are the types of medical problems that causes back pain:
A mechanical problem is caused by the way your spine moves or how you feel when you move in a specific pattern. This is typically experienced by people who have repetitive physical jobs like a warehouse worker who must pick up a lot of heavy boxes.
Arguably the most frequent mechanical cause of back pain is due to a condition known as intervertebral disc degeneration. What this means is that the spinal discs found between the vertebrae of one’s spine have been worn out from age.
As the discs deteriorate, they are no longer have the same cushioning effect they once had. If the spine is exposed to an unusual amount of stress during this vulnerable state, it can easily lead to back pain. Thus, those who are older must be more careful as they are more susceptible to spinal problems.
Another reason for back pain can be due to the weakening of facet joints over time. Facet joints are the large joints that link each vertebrae in the spine together.
Some other causes of mechanical back pain include but are not limited to: spasms, herniated discs, and muscle tension.
Spinal injuries like sprains and fractures can lead to brief or long lasting (chronic) back pain.
A sprain is a tear (or multiple tears) in the ligaments of the spine, and they can result from twisting or lifting improperly. Sometimes, even a brief moment in an awkward or vulnerable position (e.g. bending down to pick up something slightly out of your reach) can be enough to experience a sprain.
Fractured vertebrae can most likely be attributed to osteoporosis, which is a condition that leads to weak and fragile bones.
Less frequently, some of the more serious injuries of back pain can be due to traumatic force applied to the spine as a result of accidents (e.g. a car crash or heavy weightlifting) and falls.
Acquired conditions and diseases
Plethora of medical conditions can attribute to back pain. Here are a few:
- Scoliosis: This causes an unusual curvature in the spine and the problem typically lies dormant for several years until mid-life when they may begin to arise.
- Spondylolisthesis: A variety of arthritis, which includes rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
- Spinal Stenosis: A tightening of the spinal column that eventually squeezes the spinal cord and nerves.
While osteoporosis is not a painful condition in of itself, the weakened bones it causes can easily lead to fractures which are painful.
Some other causes of back pain can include: kidney stones, pregnancy, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia.
Infections and Tumors
Though not commonly associated with back pain, an infection of the vertebrae can cause pain as well as a condition called osteomyelitis. Another spinal condition is when an infection affects the spinal discs, and this is called discitis.
Another rare cause of back pain are tumors. On some occasions, tumors can begin to grow from the back, but this is likely due to cancer that originated somewhere else on the body and spread to the back.
Other sources of back pain
Though most causes of back pain are physical, it is possible that emotional stress may be a factor in the severity of back pain and how long it takes to recover. This is because stress can affect one’s body in several ways, such as causing back muscles to be tensed up and thus injury prone.
Depression and anxiety that is untreated can also make back pain feel worse off than it is. Similarly, the same can be said of insomnia, as lack of sleep can make one delirious.
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