Back pain is the most common cause of disability throughout the world. For some people, the pain is a minor nuisance, but for others, it disrupts many parts of their life. Knowing the common causes of back pain helps us understand how best to have it treated.
Ligament or Muscle Strain
An awkward or sudden movement or repeatedly lifting things that are heavy can result in a strain. A strain is when a muscle or a ligament tears or is overstretched and there are varying degrees of severity. The symptoms depend on the severity of the strain and can include:
- Sudden onset of pain
- Limited range of motion
- Swelling, stiffness and weakness
- Muscle spasm
The spine can be severely affected by a ruptured disc, resulting in the soft material inside each disc essentially spilling out and putting pressure on nearby structures. The symptoms ultimately depend on the location of the ruptured disc, but these commonly occur:
- Tingling or numbness affecting the areas where the nerves are compressed
- Pain described as shooting down a leg
- Weakness in an area where the nerves are compressed
When you have osteoporosis, the bones of the spine become brittle and porous. This can lead to compression fractures in the spine. The most common symptom is pain in the back where there are collapsed or fractured vertebra. In addition, the following symptoms are possible:
- Stooped posture
- Over time, you can lose height due to vertebra damage
- You are at a higher risk for bone fractures due to reduced integrity of the bones in the spine
Arthritis of the Spine
Arthritis refers to an inflammation of a joint and can affect the spine. There are many kinds of arthritis that can affect the spine, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type and it occurs as a result of wear and tear, making it something almost everyone experiences as they get older. The following symptoms can result:
- Back pain
- Weakness and numbness in the extremities
- Pain or cramping in the extremities
There is also the potential for losing control of your bladder or bowel and if these occur, you should seek emergency medical care.
Any back pain that occurs suddenly, gets worse, is severe or persistent should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. It is important to properly treat these conditions before they get more complex.