What Causes Back Pain and How to Find Relief

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Back Pain CausesBack pain is the most common complaint in today’s world. We’ll explain back pain causes and relief. Around 80% of people have or will suffer from back pain, at least once in a lifetime.

Back pain is a frequent culprit behind the absences from work and many visits to the doctor. It is uncomfortable and painful but is not severe.

Individuals of all ages are affected by back pain, but it primarily affects people aged around 35-55 years. Back pain is connected with the way our muscles, bones, and ligaments work with each other.

Standard Causes of Upper and Mid- Back Pain

Pain in the upper back area occurs either due to the disorders associated with the aorta, chest tumors or spine inflammation.  The spine is a complex structure comprised of the muscles, disks, tendons, ligaments, and bones. The discs cushion the segments of the spine. These disks are cartilage-like pads. Any problem with these components might lead to back pain. But, in some cases, the cause remains unidentified. For example, osteoporosis might lead to back pain.

Lower Back Pain

The following are the common causes of back pain associated with upper and middle back pain:


The most common cause of back pain is stress, which include:

  • the strained ligaments
  • tense muscles
  • muscle spasm

The leading causes of spasm or strain include:

  • improper lifting
  • lifting heavy objects
  • an awkward or abrupt movement

Structural Problems:

The following structural deformities might lead to back pain:Spinal-disc-degeneration

  • Ruptured discs: put pressure on the nerves
  • Bulging discs: they are the same as ruptured discs, but nerves exert more pressure.
  • Sciatica: it leads to sharp, shooting pain which travels from the buttock to the legs.
    • It results in herniated or bulging discs pressing on the nerve.
  • Arthritis: patients suffering from osteoarthritis experience the pain in hip joints, knees, lower back, and hands.
    • Arthritis in some cases can result in spinal stenosis, narrowing space around the spinal cord.
  • Abnormality in the spine curvature can cause back pain. Scoliosis is a condition, where the spine curves on a side.
  • Osteoporosis: in this condition, the bones become porous and brittle resulting in compression fractures.

Other Causes

  1. Cauda equine syndrome
  2. Spinal cancer
  3. Infection of the spine
  4. Other types of infections
  5. Shingles
  6. Sleep disorders
  7. Bad mattress
  8. Poor posture or everyday activities might also result in back pain, which includes pushing or pulling something.
  9. Other events include bending, carrying or lifting something, sitting for long periods.

Some natural reflexes and hobbies can contribute as well: Activities-That-Cause-Back-Pain

  • sneezing or coughing
  • twisting or over-stretching
  • muscle tension
  • standing or bending down for long periods
  • long driving sessions
  • straining the neck for hours while using the computer or driving.

What Can Cause Lower Back Pain?

lower back painThe pain in the lower back is associated with the lumbar region.  The pain in the lower back is linked with the nerves, spinal cord, and lower back muscles.

It is also associated with the skin covering the lumbar region, and the internal organs of the pelvic and abdominal region.

Following are the specific causes of low back pain:

  • Lumbar strain:  the stress injury to the lumbar ligaments, tendons or muscles). It can be acute or chronic.
  • Lumbar radiculopathy:  the nerve irritation which occurs due to the disc damage between the vertebrae
  • Nerve irritation:  the nerves within the lumbar region might get irritated due to the mechanical pressure exerted by the tissues, bones or muscles

Other causes of back pain include:

  • pregnancy
  • kidney problems
  • ovary issues
  • tumors

Uncommon causes of lower back pain include:

  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • infection or bleeding of the pelvis
  • infection or bleeding of the bones or cartilage of the spine
  • shingles
  • aneurysm aorta.

Back Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of back pain causes include:

  • Stabbing or shooting pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Radiating pain which travels to your legs
  • Limited motion or flexibility in your back
  • Incontinence of stool or urine
  • Weakness in the lower extremity along with the atrophy of the lower back muscles

When to Consult Your Doctor


Most types of back pain improve with the help of home treatments either within one-two weeks.

In rare cases, you need to see your doctor when there is a severe medical problem.

Consult your physician for immediate care if your pain leads to signs of the following conditions:

  • New bladder or bowel problems
  • Fever accompanied by pain
  • You fall after either a blow or injury on your back

See your doctor if you have severe back pain or pain spreading down to your legs. Consult them if your pain does not resolve with rest, or if you feel a numb, weak or tingling sensation in either leg.

You should also consult the doctor if you experience weight loss with back pain, or you have back pain for the first time in your life at the age of 50.

See them if you have a severe medical condition, such as osteoporosis, cancer, alcohol or drug abuse, or you are using steroids.

Diagnostic Tests

A doctor might order several tests:

  1. An imaging test such as an MRI or XRAY, CAT scanning
  2. Urine and blood tests
  3. Bone scanning tests

Back Pain Relief

Back pain relief depends upon the daily life routine. Treatment for every individual is unique.  There are two types of back pain: acute and chronic. Acute back pain is short-term, while chronic pain is of a long-term duration.

Home Remedies for Back Pain

The treatment for mild to moderate levels of back pain include:

  • Exercise
  • Heat or ice
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs),
    • for instance, Aspirin or Acetaminophen.
  • Automated or Manual therapies such as massage, spinal manipulation or mobilization
  • Topical analgesic, e., pain killing balms
  • Elimination of heavy lifting
  • Avoiding re-injury
  • Orthopedic Shoes
  • Practicing proper posture
  • Using a standing desk or kneeling chair
  • Inversion Tables

Medical Treatments and ProceduresBack Pain Causes

If your back pain is severe, consult your doctor for:

  1. Cortisone injections
  2. Physical therapy, possibly including the application of ice, heat, electrical stimulation or by ultrasound.
  3. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy helps in managing the back pain causes and relief)
  4. The doctors might also suggest the complementary therapies to minimize back pain causes and relief, which may include:
  • Chiropractor
  • Osteopath
  • Shiatsu
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga

Other treatments include:

A surgical procedure is rare and includes methods such as:

  • Discectomy
  • Artificial disc placement
  • Joining together by the placement of bone graft
  • By partial removal of the vertebrae
  • TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation)

Back Pain Prevention

Follow the simple steps to lower the risk of back pain causes and relief:

  • Exercise regularly
    • Core exercises and stretches
  • Smoking has an increased association with back pain compared to the non-smokers
  • Standing posture should be straight
  • Using a kneeling chair or standing desk
  • Lift things while using your legs instead of pressure on the back
  • Flat shoes might result in back strain
  • Use a mattress which keeps your spine straight, and supports your hips, shoulders, and back
  • Avoid injury to the low back


So far we have discussed many back pain causes and relief. Consult your doctor if you have severe pain. Choose the medications according to your medical conditions, treatment goals, i.e., pain killing effects, reducing the inflammation and muscle pain.