Causes of backpain
There are many causes of backpain, but it is necessary to understand that pain is a symptom of a medical condition - nature's warning in fact - it is not a diagnosis in itself. Some medical problems which can cause back pain include the following:
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Ever since man started to walk upright and introduced compression into his spine, he increased the amount of mechanical and wear and tear on it. A mechanical problem is one where your spine is no longer in the condition nature intended, causing backpain and/or backache. Perhaps the most common mechanical cause of back pain is a condition called intervertebral disc degeneration, which simply means that the discs located between the vertebrae of the spine are breaking down with age. As they deteriorate, they lose their cushioning ability. This problem can lead to pain if the back is stressed. Other mechanical causes of back pain include spasms, muscle tension, and ruptured discs, which are also called herniated discs.
Spine injuries such as sprains and fractures are causes of backpain. Sprains are tears in the ligaments that support the spine, and they can occur from twisting or lifting improperly. Fractured vertebrae in older people - particularly women - are often the result of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak, porous bones. Less commonly, back pain may be caused by more severe injuries that result from accidents and falls.
Acquired conditions and diseases:
Many medical problems can cause or contribute to back pain. They include scoliosis, which causes curvature of the spine and does not usually cause pain until mid-life; spondylolisthesis; various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis; and spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. While osteoporosis itself is not painful, it can lead to painful fractures of the vertebrae. Other causes of back pain include pregnancy; kidney stones or infections; endometriosis, which is the buildup of uterine tissue in places outside the uterus; and fibromyalgia, which causes backpain, fatigue and widespread muscle pain.
Infections and tumors:
Although they are not common causes of backpain, infections can cause pain when they involve the vertebrae, a condition called osteomyelitis, or when they involve the discs that cushion the vertebrae, which is called discitis. Tumors, too, are relatively rare - probably less than 2% as the causes of back pain. Occasionally, tumors begin in the back, but more often they appear in the back as a result of cancer that has spread from elsewhere in the body.
See our glossary for an explanation of some of these medical terms.
It is easy to frighten yourself with worry over the possible cause of your backpain. In most cases it is physical, simple and will quickly clear up with gentle exercise but it is important to realise that emotional stress can also play a role in how severe pain is and how long it lasts.
Stress can affect the body in many ways, including causing back muscles to become tense and painful. Fortunately, fairly simple treatments such as massage and other complimentary treatments are very effective in dealing with stress related backpain.
So, plenty of possible causes and plenty of ways to treat them. Quite often, just reading through our Backache-Relief pages will help you identify the cause and it will usually be less worrying once you have. That said, if you are distressed or worried, see your GP.
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