What causes back pain?
The exact cause of back pain can be hard to determine. In most cases, back pain symptoms may have many different causes. Some back pain symptoms are caused by:
- Overuse, strenuous activity or improper use (such as repetitive or heavy lifting, exposure to vibration for prolonged periods of time)
- Degeneration of vertebrae often caused by stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine or the effects of aging
- Abnormal growth (tumor)
- Obesity often increases weight on the spine and pressure on the disks
- Poor muscle tone in the back
- Muscle tension or spasm
- Sprain or strain
- Ligament or muscle tears
- Joint problems such as spinal stenosis
- Protruding or herniated (slipped) disk
- Diseases such as osteoarthritis, spondylitis or compression fractures
Back pain is classified as acute (or short-term) and chronic. Acute back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks; most acute back pain will resolve on its own. Chronic back pain lasts for more than three months and often gets worse. The cause of chronic back pain can be hard to find.
These are the most common symptoms of back pain. Symptoms may include discomfort or pain in the back that is:
- Sharp or dull
- Well-defined or vague
Back pain symptoms may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.