Back pain is one of the most common health complaints. Almost everyone will have back pain at some time in their life. Most of the time, the exact cause of the pain cannot be found.
One single event may not cause your pain. You may have been doing many things improperly — such as standing or lifting — for a long time. Then suddenly, one simple movement (such as reaching for something or bending from your waist) leads to pain.
Many people with chronic back pain have arthritis and extra wear and tear on the spine. This may be due to:
• Heavy use from work or sports
• Past injuries and fractures
• Past surgery
You may have had a herniated disk, where part of the spinal disk pushed onto nearby nerves. Normally, the disks provide space and cushion in your spine. If these disks dry out and become thinner and more brittle, you can lose movement in the spine over time.
If the spaces between the spinal nerves and spinal cord become narrowed, this can lead to spinal stenosis. These problems are called degenerative joint or spine disease.
Other possible causes of chronic low back pain:
• Curvatures of the spine (such as scoliosis or kyphosis), which may be passed down in families
• Medical problems, such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis
• Piriformis syndrome (a pain disorder involving a narrow muscle in the buttocks)
You are at greater risk for low back pain if you:
• Are over age 30
• Are overweight
• Are pregnant
• Do not exercise
• Feel stressed or depressed
• Have a job in which you have to do a lot of heavy lifting, bending and twisting, or that involves whole body vibration (such as truck driving or using a sandblaster)
You may feel a variety of symptoms if you have back pain, including:
• Dull aching
• Sharp pain
• Tingling or burning sensation
• Weakness in your legs or feet
Low back pain can differ from person to person. The pain may be mild, or it can be so severe that you are unable to move. Depending on the cause of your back pain, you may also have pain in your leg, hip, or on the bottom of your foot.