Back pain is a common problem, affecting as many as 31 million people in the U.S., according to the American Chiropractic Association. Up to 80% of the U.S. population can expect to suffer from back pain at some point during their lives.

Although back pain can strike in your upper or lower back, pain in the low back is more common because it supports so much of your body weight. There are many causes of back pain, ranging from injury to disease. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes.

1. Mechanical issues with the spine

Common conditions, such as intervertebral disc degeneration which involves the discs between the vertebrae in the spine breaking down, often results in back pain. Discs cushion the vertebrae as the spine moves, but naturally break down as you age. This breakdown can lead to back pain, usually in the lower back.

A herniated disc, when one of those spinal cushions sustains damage, may also cause back pain. Other joints that can cause back pain as they wear with age include facet joints that connect the vertebrae to one another.

2. Strains and sprains

Acute back pain can result from lifting something too heavy or injuring a muscle during exercise. Even a sudden awkward movement can injure your back. For people who work in offices, sedentary lifestyles spent sitting at desks all day can weaken back muscles and increase the risk for injury.  Exercising with poor form may also increase the likelihood for strain.

3. Bone or skeletal disorders

People suffering from osteoporosis may develop spinal compression fractures that can lead to back pain. Similarly, people suffering from osteoarthritis or severe scoliosis, diagnosed through abnormal spinal curvature, may experience achy backs.

4. Lifestyle

Being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk for back pain, according to a 2013 study published in the Spine Journal. Overweight people are at nearly double the risk for back pain as people of normal weight. The risk of back pain keeps climbing the higher your body mass index (BMI) climbs. Smokers are also at a higher risk for back pain, no matter how much they weigh, according to the study.

Do you have any of the risk factors for back pain?

Image by Michael Dorausch via Flickr


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