Medical risk factors that can cause back pain include:
- Osteoarthritis. This is the most common type of arthritis that causes joints to become painful and stiff.
- Sciatica. Irritation of the nerve that runs from the pelvis to the feet.
- Slipped disc. Pain and back spasms can occur when a disc of cartilage presses on a nearby nerve.
- Pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to develop lower back pain due to carrying more weight.
- Cancer of the spine. An example is a multiple myeloma.
- Cauda equina syndrome. Where the nerves in the lower back become severely compressed.
- Spondylolisthesis. Where a bone in the spine slips out of position.
- Kidney stones.
Lifestyle risk factors that can cause back pain include:
- Occupational hazards. Jobs that require repetitive bending, lifting and standing or sitting for long periods without a break put employees at greater risk of back pain.
- Poor posture. Forgetting about posture and the tendency to slouch adds strain on the back and can cause muscular back pain.
- Sedentary behaviour. Sitting for too long and not getting enough movement or exercise.
- Exercise and sporting injuries. At the opposite end of the spectrum, pushing yourself too hard in the gym or sustaining a sporting injury can trigger back strain.
- Excess weight. Being overweight adds more stress to the back and joints.
- Fashion choices. High heels not only affect standing and movement but change posture and can exacerbate lower back pain in the process.
- Smoking. One study found smokers are three times more likely to develop chronic back pain.