What’s Causing My Back Pain?

Many sudden attacks of acute back pain are the result of overstretched muscles (strains) or ligaments (sprains). The pain may be most severe immediately after injury, or it may worsen gradually over a few hours. In most instances, back pain as a result of strain or sprain can be resolved following a conservative course of treatment – usually within two to six weeks – provided there are no serious underlying medical conditions.

Common Causes of Pain

Common causes of strains and sprains that can trigger acute back pain include:

  • Improper lifting
  • Sudden, strenuous physical effort
  • Accident, sports injury or fall
  • Sleeping position and/or pillow positioning
  • Poor sitting or standing posture
  • Bending forward too long
  • Using your shoulder to hold the phone receiver to your ear
  • Carrying a heavy purse, briefcase or backpack
  • Stress and muscle tension

Physical conditions that can possibly contribute to the onset of acute back pain include:

  • Lack of muscle tone
  • Excess weight
  • Pregnancy

Other Causes of Back Pain

Mechanical Disorders

Many people who suffer from back problems are experiencing

mechanical pain, which means that a specific part of their spine, such as an intervertebral disc, a ligament, or a joint is damaged and is not working correctly. Examples of spinal mechanical disorders include degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spondylosis/spondylolisthesis, arthritis and spinal stenosis.

Developmental Disorders

Developmental disorders of the lower back are caused by abnormalities in the formation and growth of the skeleton. Although the treatment for many of these conditions is conservative, surgery may be required to keep some disorders from worsening, and in order to prevent long-term disability and or deformity. Scoliosis and kyphosis are examples of developmental disorders of the spine.

Trauma

Trauma to the spine refers to injury that has occurred to the bony elements, soft tissues and/or neurological structures, resulting in instability of the vertebral column and actual or potential neurological injury.