back pain


Back pain commonly result from injury, strain or tension on the back. Activities that can lead to strains include but not limited to:

  • lifting something that is too heavy
  • making an abrupt and awkward movement
  • lifting something improperly


A number of structural problems may also results in back pain. Some of them are:

  • Arthritis on the back – osteoarthritis can cause problems with the joints in the hips and lower back. In some cases the space around the spinal cord narrows, this is known as spinal stenosis.
  • Ruptured disc – each vertebra in the spine is cushioned by discs. If the disc ruptures there will be pressure on the nerve resulting in back pain.
  • Bulging disc – in much the same as ruptured disc, a bulging disc can result in more pressure on a nerve.
  • Sciatica – a sharp and shooting pain travels through the buttock and down the back of the leg caused by a bulging or herniated disc pressing on a nerve.
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine – if the spine curves in an unusual way, back pain can result. An example is scoliosis in which the spine curves to the side.

Back pain can also result from some everyday activities or poor posture, examples include:

  • twisting
  • over-stretching
  • coughing or sneezing
  • muscle tension
  • bending awkwardly or for long periods
  • pushing, pulling or carrying something
  • standing or sitting for long periods
  • straining the neck forward, such as when driving or using a computer
  • long driving sessions without a break, even when not hunched
  • sleeping on a mattress that does not support the body

Some medication conditions that can cause back pain include but not limited to:

  • Cauda equina syndrome – the cauda equina is a bundle of spinal nerve roots that arise from the lower end of the spinal cord. Symptoms include a dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks, as well numbness in the buttocks, genitalia & thighs. There are sometimes bladder and bowel function disturbances.
  • Cancer of the spine – a tumor on the spine may press against a nerve resulting in back pain.
  • Infection of the spine – a fever and tender warm area on the back could be due to an infection of the spine.
  • Other infections – pelvic inflammatory disease, bladder or kidney infections may also lead to back pain.
  • Sleep disorders – individuals with sleep disorders are more likely to experience back pain.
  • Shingles – an infection that can affect the nerves may lead to back pain. This depends on which nerves are affected.

The following factors are linked to a higher risk of developing lower back pain:

  • poor physical fitness
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • pregnancy
  • occupational activities
  • older age
  • obesity and excess weight
  • smoking
  • strenuous physical exercise or work, especially if done incorrectly
  • genetic factors
  • medical conditions such as arthritis and cancer