No matter what you do, you can’t get comfortable. Sitting hurts, standing hurts, laying down hurts. You wake up with pain, and you go to bed with pain. You find yourself taking days off from work when the pain is at its peak, regularly taking over-the-counter pain medication, and you have shelved your once regular work-out routine. If you’re living with persistent lower back pain, then you can likely relate to these shared experiences. One of the most frustrating aspects of living with chronic back pain is not knowing where the pain comes from, or how to make it go away. Below, we list five of the most common causes of this discomforting condition that affects ten percent of the world’s population.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
While every patient’s case is unique, the most common causes of lower back pain include:
- Muscle or Spinal Ligament Strain. A fast movement, repetitive lifting, an awkward bend, or an attempt to lift something beyond your capabilities can all result in a strain that causes severe discomfort. If your job or hobbies often require you to lift and bend, such repetitive stress on your lower back can trigger painful muscle spasms.
- A Ruptured or Bulging Disc. Between the individual bones that make up your spine (the vertebrae) are cushions of strong connective tissues known as discs. If the disc material begins to bulge, or if it ruptures, it can place pressure on a nearby nerve, causing acute pain.
- Scoliosis. This spinal irregularity impacts two to three percent of the population or about six to nine million Americans. For those affected, a common symptom often includes lower back pain or discomfort.
- Osteoarthritis. This condition, in which the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time, can affect the lower back. Sometimes, spinal arthritis can result in a condition called spinal stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal that causes painful pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone density and quality are reduced. As bones become porous, they become more fragile. As a result, the spine can develop painful compression fractures.
When to Get Help
If your back pain is disrupting your daily life, impacting your ability to care for your children, go to work, or you find yourself taking pain medicine regularly, then it’s time to take to your doctor. He or she can identify the underlying cause of your back pain and will help you to put a plan in place to help you mitigate your discomfort and resume your normal activities.