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The Most Common Causes of Back Pain and How to Prevent Them

May 17, 2022

Back pain is a prevalent ailment among the global population, affecting approximately one in every four people. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, increased stress and even lack of exercise. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent back pain from occurring. Let’s explore the most common causes of back pain and proven ways to prevent them from happening.

Types of Back Pain

Being highly subjective, pain can fall anywhere on the scale from mild or debilitating to localized or generalized and can be constant, acute, irregular or even chronic in some cases. Acute back pain can often be traced to an obvious source, such as lifting something heavy or twisting the wrong way. On the other hand, many cases of chronic back pain require further diagnostics to determine the source of the discomfort. The specific level of pain experienced varies from person to person and should be evaluated with the patient’s unique medical history and overall health as a guiding factor in diagnosis.

Common Symptoms of Back Pain

Back pain can take on many forms and has the potential to manifest differently from patient to patient. Common warning signs of underlying back pain are stiffness first thing in the morning and diminished back pain with physical activity, aches that start within the back and radiate into the glutes, legs and/or hips, discomfort in the back that comes and goes, increased pain when resting, sitting or standing, or amplified pain when bending and/or lifting objects.

Common Causes of Back Pain

It is possible for back pain to be caused by a variety of things, including mechanical and structural complications of the spine, inflammatory disorders and other medical conditions.

Structural Issues and the Spine

Easily the most common cause of back pain, structural and mechanical issues of the spine can cause a number of painful symptoms. Common ailments that fall within this category are:

  • Sprain: an injury to the ligaments that support the spine, often occurring from twisting or lifting improperly.
  • Strain: an injury to a muscle or tendon.
  • Degenerative disc disease: aging causes the discs between the vertebrae of the spine to break down.
  • Herniated or ruptured discs: the discs compress and irritate nearby nerves. This often occurs at the lumbar level.
  • Spondylolisthesis: a vertebra in the spine slips out of place.
  • Spinal stenosis: a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves
  • Fractured vertebrae.
  • Scoliosis or other congenital changes to the spine.

Preventing Back Pain Caused by Structural Issues

The best way to prevent back pain caused by the above conditions is by staying active and receiving routine physicals and wellness checkups. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet can also decrease the likelihood of sustaining serious injuries. It should also be noted that lifting and carrying objects properly is key to avoiding structural and/or mechanical issues of the spine.

Inflammatory Conditions of the Spine

Less common than structural problems, inflammatory conditions of the spine can also cause back pain. The most common inflammatory condition that causes aches and pains is Osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis of the spine. Other forms of spinal arthritis can also cause back pain, so it is important to see a certified spine specialist for proper diagnosis.

Preventing Back Pain Caused by inflammatory Conditions

The main causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for Osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear. The best steps you can take to prevent back pain caused by inflammatory conditions is by making lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: 

  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Changing your posture
  • Physical Therapy

Other Medical Conditions that Cause Back Pain

Many other medical conditions are known to cause back pain in patients. Fibromyalgia, kidney stones and infections, Endometriosis and, in rare cases, tumors are known to cause back discomfort. You should seek a thorough examination by a licensed professional to properly diagnose your back pain.

Preventing Back Pain Caused by Other Conditions

Though genetics play an important role in some disorders that cause back pain, there are a few small steps you can take to reduce your risk. Avoiding foods high in fat and keeping active can reduce stress put on the spine by added weight. Back pain is more common among individuals who are not physically fit because weaker back and abdomen muscles may not properly support the spine.

When to See a Doctor About Back Pain

Any time you experience back pain that keeps you from your normal activities is a good time to talk to your doctor. Sometimes, back pain can be an indicator of a much more serious underlying issue where early detection is critical. At Brain and Spine, we have years of experience diagnosing different types of back pain and would love to help you get back to the things you love!

Contact us today to schedule your back pain consultation!