Back pain causes a huge percentage of the lost hours of productivity in American businesses each year. The most debilitating injuries conditions experienced by American workers are often back related.
Many of us (me included) have had to take time off work to rest and recuperate from either a dramatic or chronic back injury.
- At sometime during their working life, more than 80% of Americans experience some kind of back pain.
- The only thing that causes more visits to the Dr. and back pain are common viruses like the cold and flu. And only childbirth causes more trips to the hospital.
- About half of American workers report some sort of back problem every year, and the cost to the economy is staggering. Some estimates indicate that it could exceed $20,000,000,000 a year.
The good news is that many cases of back pain simply go away on their own, or with natural remedies like exercise, stretching or inversion.
Of course that doesn't help the sufferer. It's important to understand the cause of your back pain so that you know how to treat it.
The more you know about your particular pain's origins, the better able you'll be to decide whether this is something that you can take care of yourself, or something that you should be seen in medical doctor for.
Before we get down to give you a list of common back pain causes, I would like to make a few points about back pain in general.
This may be counter intuitive, but you should know that in many cases doctors can never determine the exact reason for the pain.
However this is no reason to despair-remember that the majority of your back pain problems will solve themselves over just a few weeks.
1. Muscle and ligament injury
Your single most common cause of back pain is going to be your muscles and ligaments. It is really easy just going about your day to day activities to accidentally injure or string in muscle in your back. Many times you can and your back and not even realize it.
2. Disk Problems
The second most common cause, which often occurs along with pain down one or both of your legs will be a disk problem. Several of these are listed below, and these will always require intervention by medical professional. Back pain will exhibit when part of one of your discs bulges out or herniates outside its usual location. Then it will press or impinge upon the nerves for your legs. This is why a disk problem can cause leg pain, and not just back pain. This is what your doctor is talking about when he discusses symptoms of nerve impingement.
3. Mental Conditions
And finally before we go on to specific medical reasons for back pain we have to mention the mental. No, I’m not suggesting that your pain as psychosomatic or that it is “all in your head”. Back pain can be associated with mental stress. Usually your back pain will begin or become worse when you suffer a stressful life event. Stress will make you tighten up your back muscles and your neck muscles and this can cause pain. If you’re under a lot of stress and also doing physical work or chores the potential for a follow on back injury is high. If you already have an actual physical problem with your back, and are entering a stressful period in your life such as a job change or divorce, you may want to take this into account and take it a little easy until things calm down.
What causes back pain?
Within the broad categories listed above are more specific causes. We're going to go through some of the most common causes of back pain. You may want to bookmark this page and come back to this list later, as this list will be updated both as more causes are identified, and as we add more detailed information about each cause of back pain.
Back muscle strains
If you have lower back pain, this is most likely what has happened. It can be difficult to identify it, because many patients do not even remember the injury or trauma that is now causing them low back pain. On the brighter side, if this is where your pain comes from you most likely will be OK within a few weeks. You can refer to other articles on this site for information on relieving your back pain naturally, without expensive doctor visits or potentially dangerous medication.
Ruptured Intervertebral Disc
This is also called a bulging disc or a herniated disc and is likely the second most common cause of back pain. Obviously more serious than a simple muscle strain, the way that you'll treat this condition depends on your individual circumstances.
Intravertebral disc damage (discogenic back pain)
Discogenic back pain is similar to a ruptured disc, but without bulging. If you're diagnosed with this condition you may need to get a discogram.
Lumbar spine arthritis
Although arthritis is normally found in smaller joints such as the fingers, it can affect any joint including those in your spine. If you have spinal arthritis most any movement can cause you back pain
This condition results in substantial pain due to the behavior of adjacent vertebra. They become unstable and begin to slip out of alignment. Normally this is caused by degenerative changes and the spinal column.
Although primarily a problem for women, osteoporosis can affect men as well, and can be an issue for all people over 50 years old. The most common external symptom is what is known as dowagers hump. The good news is that recent advances in medication and in the knowledge base concerning osteoporosis make this condition largely preventable for much of the population. If you have osteoporosis already, you should contact your Physician for advice on calcium supplementation and appropriate exercise regimens.
In future articles here on Backgadgets.com, we'll discuss how to know when to seek medical treatment of back pain, and what questions and answers should be part of your initial interview with your back doctor.