What Causes Back Pain?

By Caitlin Violette, PT, DPT

What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain causes disability throughout the world. Surgery is rarely needed to fix back pain. There is often a home treatment that you can do to improve your pain.

Back pain will often be felt in the form of backaches or pain radiating down the leg. This can sometimes be a shooting or stabbing pain. The quick answer is many different factors can cause back pain.

woman on yoga mat with lower back pain

Lower back pain.

Back Pain Causes

There are many back pain causes, and speaking with your doctor is always a good idea to figure out your cause and help prevent future flare-ups.

  • Muscle or ligament strain. Lifting something heavy or repeated lifting can strain the back, especially with poor mechanics such as bending instead of squatting to lift objects—a sudden awkward movement such as bending or twisting weirdly.
  • Arthritis. Osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine (low back) can lead to narrow space around the spinal cord. This can cause spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis will be relieved by bending forward as this decreases the narrowing around the spinal cord.
  • Osteoporosis. Porous and brittle bones can be susceptible to compression fractures in the spine.
  • Bulging or herniated disc. The disc acts as a shock absorber for the vertebrae, the bones in the spine. The discs are filled with a jelly-like material called the nucleus pulposus. When this fluid bulges or ruptures out of the disc, it can press on a nerve and cause pain. Bulging discs are also common in people without back pain. It is common for disc disease to be found on an x-ray for another reason. It can be the cause of pain but is not always, even when imaging comes back positive.
  • Scoliosis. You could have some pain when your spine curves to one side. Pain is usually not from this until middle age.

More Back Pain Causes

  • Accidents or Injuries. Falls, car accidents, or any other traumatic injury can cause back pain. Injuries can cause fractures or muscle strains. It would be smart to see your doctor if you have had a traumatic injury.
  • Lifestyle and body mechanics. Daily activities such as lifting heavy objects or slouching at your desk can cause low back pain. Being overweight, not exercising, and smoking are factors that may cause back pain, also.

How to Prevent Back Pain

Woman Balance pose with outstretched arms

Exercise helps prevent back pain

Back pain causes have been listed above, but what can you do to prevent back pain? There is a lot you can do at home to prevent a flare-up of your back pain.

  • Keeping a healthy weight. Being overweight puts a strain on your entire body, including your back. Losing excess weight if you are overweight can assist with keeping your pain away.
  • Exercise. The body likes movement. Increasing your strength and endurance in your back muscles and core will let you move better to do the things you want to do without pain.
  • Back strength and flexibility. Keeping your entire core strength is critical to prevent back pain; the muscles help stabilize the spine to improve your movement without pain. Keeping your hips and legs flexible also helps with low back and pelvic alignment, so you can do your activities with your back feeling better.
Hamstring stretches for low back pain

Seated hamstring stretch

Physical Therapy for Back Pain

If you have persistent tightness or pain in your back, physical therapy can be a helpful option. A physical therapist will evaluate the health of your back and the surrounding area to determine any issues.

The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has the answers for your back pain. From world-class physical therapy to some of the top orthopedic surgeons in the country. JOI has the experience to solve your back issues. To make an appointment with an Orthopaedic Spine Physician, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below.  If your primary care physician has ordered physical therapy for your low back pain, find out about JOI Rehab’s Fast Track Program at 904-858-7045.

Related Article: Best Core Stabilization Exercises and lower back pain.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care Services

By: Caitlin Violette, PT, DPT

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