8% of American adults experience back pain that won’t go away. That’s 16 million people who suffer from the 6th most expensive health condition in the United States.

Over a lifetime, 8 out of 10 people experience back pain at some point or another.

Whether your back has a structural issue or a strain, chronic back pain can lead to missed work, lost wages, and an overall detriment to everyday life.

Do you want to figure out what’s causing your back pain?

Keep reading to learn about 7 common back pain causes

1. Movement or Posture

Back pain can begin with something as simple as a single movement. Or, it might be that your posture is causing it.

Here are some of the movements and postures that can cause an individual to begin suffering from back pain:

  • Muscle tension
  • Over-stretching
  • Twisting
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Bending awkwardly
  • Bending for long periods
  • Lifting, pulling, carrying or pushing something
  • Straining your neck forward (like sitting in front of a computer)
  • Long periods of driving with no break
  • Sleeping on a mattress without enough support

2. Strain or Spasms

A lot of the time, back pain stems from tension, strain, or injury. There are quite a few back pain causes, such as:

  • A muscle spasm
  • Damaged discs
  • Fractures, injuries, or falls
  • Muscle tension
  • Strained ligaments or muscles

It might be that you lifted something improperly or something that was too heavy. Sometimes, even making an awkward or quick movement can lead to a back spasm.

3. Structural Issues

Many times, the cause of back pain is a structural issue. Structural issues can follow someone from birth or develop later on in life. Let’s take a look at some of the most common structural back pain causes.


Someone who has sciatica usually suffers from shooting, sharp pains that travel through the buttocks, and then down the back of the leg. This back pain is caused by a herniated or bulging disc that’s pressing on a nerve.

Ruptured or Bulging Discs

The vertebrae in your spine are cushioned by discs. When one ruptures, that means more pressure on a nerve, which often results in severe back pain.

Likewise, bulging discs can also result in extreme nerve pressure, leading to chronic back pain.

Osteoporosis and Arthritis

Over time, bones become porous and brittle, including the vertebrae of the body’s spine. As bones become brittle, compression fractures are much more likely, and those are a common culprit of back pain.

Osteoarthritis can cause issues within the hips, lower back, fingers, and many other places throughout the body. It’s one of the most common back pain causes, especially in people over 50 years of age.

Abnormal Curvature

The spine should, ideally, run straight down the back’s middle. However, if the spine curves at all, the result can be chronic back pain.

Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis all indicate a spine that’s exaggerated or misaligned in certain areas. Some babies are born with scoliosis. However, it can develop over time, too.

Complications from past surgeries or age-related wear and tear can lead to adult kyphosis or scoliosis.

4. Kidney Problems

Sometimes pain in your middle to upper back or pain in your sides could be indicative of a kidney issue.

It’s also possible to have pain on just one side if only one kidney has an issue. If your back pain is a result of a kidney issue, you’ll feel it in your flank. The flank is the area between the bottom of your ribcage and your hips on either side of your spine.

If it’s a kidney stone, the pain is usually sharp. If it’s an infection, you’ll likely experience a dull ache. Most of the time, the pain will be constant.

If your back pain is caused by a kidney issue, movement shouldn’t make it worse, but it won’t go away on its own.

5. Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis might not be one of the more common causes of back pain, but it’s one you should seek medical attention for right away.

It’s not caused by physical trauma to the spine. It’s caused by chronic inflammation in the vertebrae. Technically-speaking, it’s a type of spinal arthritis.

Symptoms include stiffness and flare-ups of spinal pain. The disease can also affect the eyes, the intestines, and other joints.

6. Lumbar Herniated Disc

Your lumbar discs have jelly-like centers. Sometimes the contents can break through the disc’s strong outer layer and irritate a nearby nerve root.

When the herniated portion of a disc reaches a nerve root, its proteins cause inflammation and nerve compression, which result in back pain. A tear through the disc wall can cause severe and chronic back pain.

7. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, around 50% of women endure some form of back pain. It’s more common during the early stages, though it can last throughout the duration of pregnancy.

When women are pregnant, their ligaments naturally softer and stretch out to prepare the body for labor. The process can quickly put a strain on the lower back’s joints and pelvis, which causes back pain.

Back Pain Treatment

A lot of back pain, particularly acute back pain, can be remedied with at-home treatment. OTC pain relievers, muscle relaxants, heat, and lifestyle changes can all provide significant relief, depending on the cause of your back pain.

For chronic back pain, chiropractic methods focus on alignment and a personalized approach to get you back to optimal health and comfort.

If you’re suffering from back pain, the best thing you can do is to see your doctor to determine the cause. If you know it’s a result of bad habits and lack of movement, there are plenty of small lifestyle changes you can make to help you live a healthier, more comfortable life.

Don’t Ignore Back Pain That Won’t Go Away

If you have back pain that won’t go away, don’t ignore it. Something that might be easy to treat now could become a greater issue down the road if left untreated.

Ask your doctor what natural treatments you can try first. It might be as simple as daily stretching and applying heat to the affected area. Most back pain gets better with home treatment.

For more serious issues, however, you might need surgery or prescribed medication, which is why it’s always vital that you check with your doctor.

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