Back Pain - Causes, Treatment, Prevention, Relief

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80% of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.

Back Pain Overview


*If you are experiencing back pain, see a doctor who can determine the cause. If the pain spreads down your leg or is accompanied by tingling, numbness or weakness, see a doctor immediately.

This site covers the more common causes of back pain, back pain prevention, and back pain treatment. Please do not attempt to diagnose yourself.


Most back pain, especially lower back pain, is caused by simple muscle strains.

Most back pain is caused by simple strains and the main focus of this site is how to prevent recurring back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the back, correcting posture, using proper lifting techniques, and understanding the physical limitations of the back. There is also information on a variety of treatments for the relief of both acute and chronic pain.

Back Pain, especially in the lower back (lumbar spine), is a problem that most people experience at some time in their lives. The muscles that support the spine are in constant use; even while simply sitting, the muscles are in use to keep one from falling over. The spine also bends, straightens and twists. This constant stress on the back can result in back strain and pain.

The lower back supports most of the weight of the body and is subject to the most mechanical stress. As a result, the lower back is commonly injured. Lower back pain caused by strained muscles or ligaments is the most common type of back pain (often referred to as lumbago).

Though most back pain is caused by muscle or ligament strain, there are other causes such as damage or injury to spinal nerves, bones, or discs. Osteoarthritis of the spine is a common cause of back pain in people over 65 years of age. Back pain is sometimes caused by a problem with the kidneys.

If back pain persists for over 3 months, it is considered chronic back pain. That doesn't mean wait 3 months to see a doctor - an aching back can be a symptom of something that requires immediate attention such as a kidney infection. Back pain that lasts several days should should be diagnosed and treated by a physician. It the back pain is severe or is accompanied by numbness or pain down the leg, a doctor should be seen immediately.

The severity of back pain does not always correlate with the severity of the injury or damage.

In many cases the cause of back pain is hard to pin down. A simple muscle strain often causes more pain that a herniated disc. Herniated discs can produce intense back pain but often do not produce any symptoms at all. Even in those with damaged discs and spinal joints, the source of the back pain may be strained back muscles.

If a doctor recommends surgery to relieve back pain, a second opinion should be sought. If one has a herniated disc, for example, but the herniated disc is not actually the source of the back pain, surgery will not help relieve it. (Most herniated discs improve without surgery)

Stress, anxiety, and depression are often linked to back pain. Stress causes muscles to contract - reducing blood flow to the tissues. Stress hormones also heighten the perception of pain.

Back pain can occur suddenly, but more often develops gradually.

For example, when the muscles supporting the back are held in one position (contracted) too long, the back muscles get fatigued and strained. Byproducts of muscular activity (such as lactic acid) build up in the back muscles. High levels of these acidic waste products in the muscles cause muscle irritation and pain.

Recurring back pain is frequently the result of inadequate muscle strength, shortened muscles; poor posture, being overweight, poor bending and lifting techniques. These are all factors that can be controlled .

Back Pain Management Site Summary

Main Menu:
  • Back Pain Home Page
    Back Pain Overview.

  • Muscle and Ligament Injuries
    Simple muscle strain is the most common cause of back pain. Injuries can occur suddenly or may be caused by overuse.

  • Preventing Back Pain
    Exercises to strengthen muscles that support the back, safe lifting techniques, proper posture, and controlling weight help prevent back injury and pain.

  • Other Back Pain Factors
    Aging, lack of sleep, depression and anxiety, stress, inappropriate footwear, and smoking increase the risk of back pain.

  • Lifting techniques
    Using proper body mechanics while lifting and respecting the limitations of the back prevent injury.

  • Posture
    Posture errors place extra stress upon the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine.

  • Post-injury exercise
    Is exercising safe after a back injury before the pain has gone?

  • Back Exercises
    Exercises for the back to increase strength, mobility and balance.

  • Back Pain Treatment
    Hot and cold therapy, topical rubs, pain medications, and complementary treatments for relief of back pain.

  • Meds for Osteoarthritis
    Anti-inflammatory medications, pain relief medications, etc.

Complementary Treatments for Back Pain:
  • Complementary Treatments
  • Directory of complementary treatments for back pain relief.

  • Acupuncture
    Ancient Chinese practice, widely used in United States and Canada for pain relief.

  • Chiropractic Treatment
    Spinal manipulation relieves certain types of back pain.

  • Inversion Tables
    Inversion tables are used to hang upside down, or inverted on a slant, to stretch the spine.
  • The muscles of the back are stretched, increasing the space between the vertebrae to reduce pressure on intervertebral discs and nerve roots for back pain relief.

  • Massage Therapy
    Common treatment for back pain relief. Manipulation of muscles and other soft tissues relieves muscle tension, increases circulation.

  • Calcium
    Calcium is essential to maintain bone mass and spine health.

  • Supplements
    Supplements for osteoarthritis

  • Hydrotherapy
    Warm water therapy, a form of hydrotherapy, reduces pain, stiffness,and stress.

  • TENS
    Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Stimulation of nerves through low voltage electric impulses - used for pain relief.

  • Stress and Back Pain
    Relieving stress can reduce back pain.

  • Footwear
  • Shoes with inadequate support or cushioning can cause or aggravate back pain.

 Other Back Conditions:
  • Other Back Conditions
    Various conditions that may cause back pain - Ankylosing Spondylitis, herniated disc, sciatica, spinal stenosis, scoliosis.

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
    Chronic Inflammatory disease of the spine.

  • Herniated Disc
    A rupture of the outer casing of a disc. If it occurs in the lower back, may cause sciatica (pain down the leg) and lower back pain.

  • Scoliosis
    Abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine.

  • Sciatica
    Pain and/or numbness caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve.

  • Spinal Stenosis
    Narrowing of the spaces in the vertebrae causing pressure of the nerve roots or spinal cord itself.

  • Fibromyalgia
    Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and fatigue.

  • Osteoarthritis of the Spine
    Degenerative disease of the cartilage of the spinal joints - can affect different areas of the spine - causing pain and stiffness.

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