The Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

The Most Common Causes of Lower Back PainLower back pain is usually caused by a mechanical issue or a soft-tissue injury. The single most common cause of lower back pain is a torn or pulled ligament and/or muscle.  This type of pain should go away with proper treatment and sufficient recovery time. Chronic lower back pain, defined as pain lasting longer than three months, can be caused by several things, including a lumbar herniated disc, compression fracture, or degenerative disc disease.

The Single Most Common Cause of Lower Back Pain

It is easier than you might think to strain a muscle strain or sprain a ligament.

You can develop one or the other by simply: 

-Lifting something heavy and twisting your spine at the same time

-Falling or moving in a way that puts unexpected stress on the lower back

-Consistently poor posture

-A sports injury

You’d rather hear you have a sprain or a strain as opposed to a torn ligament or broken bone, but that doesn’t mean strains and sprains aren’t painful. In fact, the pain can be quite excruciating. At least there is comfort knowing the pain should pass once the injury heals and proper precautions are taken to avoid re-injury.

Some Common Causes of Chronic Lower Back Pain

Chronic lower back pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months, or approximately 90 days. When lower back pain persists for this long, the cause is typically related to a joint problem, disk issue, or irritated nerve.

If you’ve been experiencing lower back pain for 3 + months, the cause might be related to:

Degenerative disc disease: The wearing down of discs as they lose hydration through the ageing process. This is most common in older people but can impact anyone.

Herniated disc: If the jelly-like substance inside of lumbar discs seeps out of its enclosure, it can irritate nearby nerve roots. In most cases, nerve pain caused by a herniated disk should dissipate before the 3-month mark. If it does not, you need to see a doctor to discuss the next step.

Osteoarthritis: A common cause of unnatural wear to discs and facet joints.

Deformity: A curvature of the spine or other deformity can cause facet joints, sacroiliac joints, and discs to break down.

Injury: If an injury leads to acute fractures or dislocations you may experience pain in your lower back. If you’ve been in a traumatic accident of any type, you should be evaluated by a medical doctor, especially if you are experiencing lower back pain.

Spinal stenosis: This condition causes narrowing of the spinal canal, leading to painful pressure on the nerves.

Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes one vertebra to slip over the adjacent vertebra and can cause lower back pain.

3 Common & Preventable Causes of Back Pain

#1. Lack of Regular Exercise

It’s not uncommon for people to injure their backs after a long weekend golfing or partaking in some other physical activity. Why? Because they spend all week in a chair at work and then go hard on the weekend, resulting in injury. Regular exercise keeps your muscles strong and limber, taking pressure off your back and reducing your risk of getting hurt mid golf swing.

#2. Improper Exercise

Almost as bad as no exercise, improper form or poor weight lifting techniques commonly lead to sprains, strains and even herniated disks, ultimately causing back pain. It’s important to learn how to properly engage your abs when you lift, or else you risk using your back and injuring it over time.

#3. Sitting All Day Long

If you work at a desk job or behind the wheel of a car, you spend most of your day putting stress on your back. It’s not just your lower back; the neck, hands, legs, and virtually every part of your body suffers from sitting all day.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time in the same position causes damage. Especially if you sit like most people, hunched over with bad posture. This causes your pelvis to lock in place and puts considerable pressure on the front of the vertebrae, right where your disks are. The more you hunch forward, the more pressure increases. Over prolonged periods of time this type of uneven pressure puts you at a high risk for rupture.

Thankfully, you don’t need to quite your job to prevent back injury. Instead, try sitting up straight and standing up every 20 to 30 minutes to stretch. A comfortable chair that promotes good posture and has adequate back support can help a lot too.

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