Back Pain Health Center

It is important to remember that back pain is a symptom, not a complete diagnosis. In other words, back pain is a sign of another condition.

One possible cause of back pain is mechanical problems, or issues with the way the spine moves or the way a person feels when moving the spine in certain wasy. One of the most common mechanical causes of back pain is intervertebral disk degeneration. Simply put, intervertebral disk degeneration means that the disks between the vertebrae of the spine are wearing down with age. As these disks slowly break down, they lose the cushioning they once relied on.

Other possible mechanical causes of back pain include spasms, muscle tension and ruptured or herniated disks.

Injuries are a common cause of acute or short-lasting back pain, but they can also lead to chronic pain. Spine injuries such as sprains and fractures can cause back pain. Sprains are tears in the ligaments that support the spine and can occur from twisting or lifting with haste and improperly. Fractured vertebrae can result from osteoporosis.

Certain medical conditions and diseases can cause back pain. Scoliosis, a curving of the spine, may cause back pain in middle age. Spondylolisthesis, varying forms of arthritis and spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, could also cause back pain. Pregnancy, kidney stones, infection and endometriosis, which is the buildup of uterine tissue in places outside of the uterus, are other potential causes back pain. Fibromyalgia is also a cause of such pain and is a condition of widespread muscle pain and fatigue.

Infections of the vertebrae and tumors are additional sources of back pain. So too is emotional stress, which can play a role in how severe the pain is and how long it lingers. Stress can negatively affect the body in many ways, including causing back muscles to become tense and painful.

Review Date: 
August 6, 2012
Last Updated:
December 13, 2013