Although they are all combined under the umbrella term of "backaches," the different pains a people can experience in their back can vary greatly. Part of the reason for this wide range of backaches is the many different conditions and experiences which may cause a backache in the first place. If you are struggling with back pain, read through this list about some of the most common causes of backaches. It might just help you figure out what's been causing your pain and how to avoid it. However, chronic or severe backaches may be a sign of something serious, so you should always talk to a doctor if you are feeling this type of pain.
It's no surprise that injuries are one of the most common causes of backaches. Whether you have been playing a contact sport, recovering from a fall or just twisted your body the wrong way, these are all situations where an injury to the back may occur. Most commonly, the injuries that cause backaches are tears in the ligaments and muscles supporting the spine. Sprains and strains like these usually come from an improper twisting or lifting motion, and in most cases will heal quickly with rest and restricted movements.
Like a sprain, a fracture may also occur in the vertebrae in your back due to injury from sports or falls. However, fractures are much more serious and can often result in chronic back pain and may get much worse without visiting a doctor. In some cases, the weakening of the bones due to osteoporosis may cause fractures in the vertebrae.
Osteoarthritis is a condition where the cushions between the discs in between the vertebrae become flatter and less flexible. This causes the disc to press together, causing backaches and stiffness in the affected area. This is a cause of back pain more commonly found in older adults since it comes as a result of years of physical activity. This is similar to another condition called intervertebral disc degeneration or degenerative disc disease, which occurs when discs in the back start to break down with age.
When a disk in the spine ruptures, it is often called a herniated disk or slipped disk. Once the herniated disk pinches a nerve in the spinal cord, the pain can be felt almost immediately. A doctor may need to do an x-ray to diagnose this condition, which is usually treated with exercise and pain medication.
Having added weight on your body, especially if you suffer from obesity, can place more pressure on your spine. People who are obese are more likely to suffer from conditions like osteoarthritis because of this added stress on their back. Staying at a healthy weight can help reduce backaches for many people.
Fibromyalgia causes pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons throughout the body. This means that backaches may only be part of the problem if you have this condition. Another key sign of fibromyalgia is fatigue. There are several medications available for dealing with this condition.
One of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is backaches, especially in the lower back. Most of this is attributed to the added weight that a woman gains while pregnant as well as the odd way in which that weight is distributed (having most of the extra weight in the lower abdomen makes it harder to keep the back straight and aligned). As a woman gets closer to her due date, some of that back pain may also result from the baby placing pressure on the lower back as it grows.
Some of the causes of backaches are a result of personal tendencies rather than medical conditions. Once example of this is improper sleeping positions, which is one of the most common causes of back pain. Sleeping on your stomach arches your back in an uncomfortable way, so doctors recommend either sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with a pillow between your legs. The added cushioning in these positions helps to keep your back straight and aligned throughout the night. (To get more information on the best sleeping positions for back pain, read Best Sleeping Positions For Different Ailments.)
Slouching over really is hard on your back. When you have bad posture, your muscles and ligaments have to work harder to keep your body balanced, which can lead to backaches or even headaches and fatigue. Stand up straight with your shoulders back to prevent backaches from bad posture.
Most of the common causes of backaches come from physical conditions or movements, but in the case of stress the cause is more emotional and psychological. When a person is extremely stressed or filled with anxiety, their body may respond by causing tension in the back. Along those same lines, depression may also lead to similar feelings of back pain and stiffness. Seeing a therapist or counselor may help to ease backaches associated with stress, anxiety or depression.