Back Pain

Back pain is one of the primary reasons for doctor visits and absences from work. Although back pain can affect individuals of all ages, it’s most prevalent among adults between the ages of 35 and 55 year old. But what are the causes back pain?

Causes of Back Pain

Our backs are complex structures composed of muscles, tendons, disks, ligaments and bones. The disks act as tiny cushions between the vertebrae of the spine. If there’s an injury or misalignment within one of these components, back pain can ensue. Often times, the exact mechanism of a patient’s back pain cannot be found. While there are many reasons someone can experiences back pain, there are several predominant factors that can lead to painful symptoms.


When an object is too heavy, we run the risk of straining the muscles and ligaments in our backs. In addition, moving too abruptly in an awkward manner can also cause back pain. A sedentary lifestyle led by most common day office workers, as well as carrying extra weight around the middle puts a tremendous amount of strain on the back musculature as well.

Structural Problems

Structurally, different types of problems that contribute to back pain are:

  • Bulging Disks

  • Ruptured Disks

  • Arthritis. Individuals suffering osteoarthritis can have painful symptoms in the hips and low back.

  • Sciatica is usually caused by a bulging or herniated disk that puts pressure on the nerves in the lower back.

Poor Posture

One of the leading causes for back pain is poor posture. Sitting hunched over in front of a computer for extended periods of time can lead to upper back pain. In addition to sitting for extended periods of time, if your workstation is not ergonomically correct, the end result is upper and lower back pain due to poor posture.

Daily Activities

Activities of daily life can precipitate back pain such as pushing or pulling heavy objects, standing or sitting for extended periods of time, bending awkwardly and even driving long distances without taking a break to stretch your legs. In some cases, even just coughing or sneezing forcefully can lead to back pain.

Anxiety and Stress

Most people are familiar with the psychological effects of stress and anxiety, but when we are stressed or anxious, the ill-effects can be felt physically as well. The majority of psychologically-induced muscle tension is experienced in the neck, shoulders and upper back. In the unfortunate event you develop back pain, play it safe and see your doctor. He or she rule out any underlying cause with a complete physical examination that may involve imaging studies. You can also alleviate back pain and prevent injury by improving your sitting posture, staying in shape, investigating proper sleeping positions and avoiding any unnecessary heavy weight or strain.

Back Pain Test

Nerve Studies (Electromyography, or EMG). This test measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).


Physical therapy is the cornerstone of back pain treatment. A physical therapist can apply a variety of treatments, such as heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques, to your back muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain.

As pain improves, the therapist can teach you exercises that can increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture. Regular use of these techniques can help prevent pain from returning.

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