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Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

It's pretty common, and normal, for a person to experience body ache, discomfort, or pain at some point in their lives. Causes for back and neck pain can vary greatly on a case by case basis, and each person can have many underlying reasons that contribute towards not indentifying the real cause of the problem. For most, the problem goes away within the first six weeks and they are able to resume a normal life. For others, however, the underlying causes of low back pain can be complex, and are not always readily apparent. Doctors sometimes don't really know what causes low back pain, but studies show that it is more likely for the symptom to become a long-lasting chronic problem if the person is under stress, depressed, unhappy with something or someone in their life, or experiences anxiety.

Listing all the causes of back problems would be difficult and very long, but I'll try to identify a few of them.

Accidents account for some of the problems, but the large majority of the people with back and neck problems are often caused by anything from sleeping at a bad angle, a sudden movement to lack of lack of exercise and physical activities.

Any type of prolonged poor posture will increase the risk of developing back pain or soreness. For instance, jobs that require long hours of sitting in a chair or in a fixed position. And there are other jobs that require repetitive lifting and bending, while other jobs such as a barber or a bartender require long hours of standing without a break. All of these types of jobs put a person at risk and some at high risk for back and neck problems.

The industrial age and advancements in technology have dramatically changed most people's lives in our society. Most people are not as physically active as in years past. Our ancestors had to work hard to survive, and physical demands were much greater than they are today. Modern life seems designed to cause back and neck problems! More and more people spend so much time sitting that their back and core muscles grow weak. Lack of physical movement and regular exercise significantly increases the risks for problems with the back.

Stress and other emotional issues are contributing factors for many people that develop back and neck problems.

Genetics is plays a part of who we are so it's not a surprise to learn that there is evidence that certain types of spinal disorders and arthritis are genetic.

It's also not a surprise that aging is a contributing factor towards developing back and neck problems. Seniors are more at risk for persistent and recurring back pain than young adults. Over time, wear and tear on the spine can cause arthritis, causing discomfort, pain, and misalignment in the spine. People 30 and above, and in particular seniors, are more at risk for persistent and recurring back pain than young adults.

A poor eating diet also accounts for problems. What we eat and how much we directly impacts our health and well-being.

Women that are pregnant are more likely to develop back pain due to carrying excess body weight in the front, and the loosening of ligaments in the pelvic area as the body prepares for delivery. Being overweight increases stress on the lower back and joints such as the knees that increase the risk factor for certain types of back and joint related problems.

Smoking, sports injury and other health conditions are also factors.

Lower back pain can affect the back from the bottom of the ribs, continue down to the tailbone and possibly the buttock and extend down the leg to the ankle or foot.

The lower back is mostly made up from muscles that attach to, and surround, the spine. The spine is made up of many individual bones called vertebrae, which form the spine and provide support for the body. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a small, spongy disc that gives the spine flexibility and serves as a cushioned, shock absorber for the body. The discs between the vertebrae are made up of a strong fibrous, tire-like outer band and a gel like inner centre substance.

The vertebrae and the discs provide a protective tunnel, called the spinal canal, through which the spinal nerves pass through and come out from between the vertebrae to pass and receive messages from the brain to various parts of the body.

Injury to the spine or wear and tear of the disc may cause tiny tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc, causing the gel inside to be forced out. This problem known as a herniated disc, slipped disc or ruptured disc which causes the disc to bulge, break open, or break into pieces. A herniated disc that puts pressure on a nerve to the leg can also cause leg symptoms, either on their own or along with low back pain. These leg symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling or weakness felt in one or both legs.

Strong ligaments also attach to adjacent vertebrae to give extra support and strength to the spine. The various muscles that are attached to the spine enable the spine to bend and move in various ways.Lower back pain is often triggered by some combination of injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments, facet joints, and the sacroiliac joints muscle strain, and discs that support the spine, and less commonly caused by spinal deformity.

The most common cause of lower back pain is a muscle strain or other soft tissue damage. This type of condition is usually not serious but can be severely painful and debilitating. Lower back pain from a muscle strain will usually get better within a few days to a few weeks with a self-care.

Numerous problems such as strains to the large back muscles, irritation to the large nerve roots that run down the legs and arms, called sciatica. Sciatic pain is created when a damaged or out of alignment area of the spine puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Other problems include irritation to small nerves inside the spine, as well as any injury to the disc such as a herniated disk, bones, joints or ligaments are also on the list parts that can cause problems.

Ageing is the most common cause of back pain in US. As we age, the body goes through a transformation process that leaves us weak and susceptible to the risk of injury and back pain. Most people's bones and muscles tend to lose strength as they get older. With age, the vertebrae begin to thicken, the discs start to lose moisture and shape, and can no longer provide enough cushion between the bones. As a result, the spinal canal becomes narrower, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve endings which usually causes pain, numbness, or weakness in the body. This condition is called spinal stenosis. It is a symptom that typically develops, progresses and increases in severity with age.

Arthritis is a joint disorder that affects one in seven Americans. Arthritis is the most common chronic illness in the US and it's the main cause of disability among people over fifty-five years of age. Some forms of arthritis can affect people at a very early age.

The word arthritis comes from the Greek arthron meaning "joint" and the Latin it meaning "inflammation". A joint is an area of the body where one bone moves on another bone. Joints that are inflamed can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain.

Arthritis may be a slight stiffness for some folks and a debilitating disease that severely hinders everyday activities for others. Arthritis is not a single disease but a term that covers over 100 medical conditions that range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage known as osteoarthritis (OA), to those associated with painful inflammation of the joints resulting from an overactive immune system known as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both types of arthritis have different causes, courses of progression and treatments.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is recognized as the most crippling or disabling type of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is commonly referred to just as arthritis, is generally considered a consequence of aging and commonly referred to the "wear and tear" disorder. Some forms of arthritis, like osteoarthritis, appear to run in families but the causes for many of others are not clear, since there are more than a hundred forms of arthritis.

OA may also be attributed to injury, trauma, stress, and/or obesity. Osteoarthritis typically expresses with joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function and did decrease in the range of motion. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis generally affects weight bearing joints, particularly the spine, the pelvis or hips, and the knees. Chronic back pain, particularly of the lower back, and leg pain (sciatica) are quite common. However, OA may also be present in the neck, the hands, particularly the finger joints, and even the big toe. Osteoarthritis generally worsens later in the day or after considerable activity. Alternately, rheumatoid arthritis is generally known for morning stiffness or stiffness occurring as the result of a lack of activity or after periods of prolonged inactivity.

One cause is when water content of cartilage increases while protein composition of cartilage degenerates. Osteoarthritis is referred to as degenerative joint disease or wear-and-tear arthritis because it is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones that form a joint. Cartilage loss can cause bone to rub on bone in a joint -- a condition that is very painful. Usually osteoarthritis begins in a single joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a inflammatory systemic disorder that causes chronic, often acute pain, stiffness and swelling, and progresses from small joint involvement, to large joint involvement, and ultimately to multiple organ. It is classified as an autoimmune disease that occurs when individual's immune system doesn't work properly or malfunctions (i.e., immune cells attack the body's own healthy tissues).

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation which leads to friction, the friction leads to joint degeneration, which leads to more inflammation, which leads to more friction and joint degeneration. The disease is a vicious circle that progresses and begins to affect other organ systems that usually results in total disability. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis has not been established. Many experts believe that RA may be the result of genetics, environment, and/or a number of other factors to include hormones and the body's reaction or response to stress.

Rheumatoid arthritis is generally not attributed to such things as aging, trauma and injury or obesity. Beginning with small joint pain and stiffness, the disorder culminates in deformity and chronic, often acute, back pain, hip and knee pain, and sciatica.

Symptoms of arthritis of the spine generally include pain and stiffness that are worse in the back and hip region. Arthritis pain starts gradually and tends to get worse over time. It is generally worse in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity. Arthritis pain gets better when you move around. Symptoms caused by arthritis and symptoms due to back injury are often similar and commonly occur together.

Pain resulting from degeneration, wear, pressure exerted on and/or inflammation of the facet joints can cause stiffness, tenderness, discomfort, pain or difficulty when sitting or standing up straight or getting out of a chair.

There are two facet joints in each spinal motion segment that connect each vertebra with the vertebra directly above and below it. They are designed to allow the vertebral bodies to rotate with respect to each other and provide stability to the spine by interlocking two vertebrae. The facet joints consist of bony projections from the top of a vertebra, the concave receptacles in the vertebra immediately above in which those projections fit, and the intervening cartilage and lubricating fluid.

Causes vary from poor posture, trauma, disc degeneration to imbalances that can occur in stress levels, hormone levels, and nutritional levels. Facet joint syndrome is more common in the elderly, as changes to the joints associated with aging are present in most people over 50 years of age.

Illness from abnormalities of organs within the abdomen, pelvis, or chest may also be felt in the back. Disorders such as kidney diseases, bladder infections, pelvic infections, and ovarian disorders, among others, can also cause pain to the back. This is called referred pain.

This article focuses on what causes back pain. Please take the time to learn about all the treatment options available today. With today's advancements and wealth of information, it's no longer necessary to accept severe back pain as a normal part of life. Talk to your physician or see a spine specialist and continue to improve self-care methods that will help you find a treatment plan that can help return you to a pain-free life.

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