What’s Causing Your Back Pain?

Eighty percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point. Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and one of the most common reasons for employees’ missing work. Maybe you do the same movements all day long working at a factory, or you spend your day lifting heavy furniture for a moving company. Working construction creates plenty of opportunity for back injuries. It’s not just the physically active jobs that can cause back pain, however. Sedentary occupations, such as office workers, remote workers, and truck drivers, can result in back pain, as well.

Treating back pain requires you to properly identify the cause of the pain. Meeting with your primary care provider is best way to identify what’s causing your back pain.

Most back pain is mechanical, but the only way to know what's causing your back pain for sure is to talk to a medical professional. Here are few common causes of back pain, and when you should talk to a doctor about back pain. Click To Tweet

Common causes of back pain

Most back pain is mechanical, meaning that the problem stems from the structure or function of joints, discs, bones, or muscles. Here are some of the common causes of back pain.

  • Sedentary living — long periods of sitting and little physical activity — can lead to back pain.
  • Aging is a big factor in back pain. As you age the disc degeneration, spinal compression, and other changes in the spine can lead to back pain.
  • Skeletal irregularities, such as scoliosis, may cause back pain.
  • Misalignment of the spinal column can cause back pain.
  • Damage to spinal nerves caused by inflammation, compression, or injury results in back pain.
  • People who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer back pain.
  • Some women experience lower back pain during pregnancy.
  • Excessive strain on the back can lead to pain.
  • Injuries — pulls, tears, strains, over stretching, and spinal injuries — are another major cause of back pain.
  • Back pain may result from herniated or ruptured intervertebral discs.

Sometimes back pain results from an underlying condition. These are less common causes of back pain:

  • infection
  • kidney stones
  • tumors
  • arthritis
  • enlarged blood vessels
  • osteoporosis
  • fibromyalgia

When should you seek care for back pain?

A sudden twisting movement or sleeping in an uncomfortable position may result in back pain for a few days. This typically doesn’t require medical care. Rest, cold and heat treatment, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help you manage the pain until you recover. However, you should see a doctor for persistent back pain, or severe back pain. Most acute back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks.

Subacute back pain lasts between one and three months, and chronic back pain lasts more than 12 weeks. Roughly 20% of people with low back pain experience chronic back pain.

Your primary care provider is a good place to start if you experience prolonged back pain, or your pain interferes with your daily life. Your PCP should be your first contact for any of your non-emergency health needs. Your doctor will help you determine the next step for treatment, which may include a referral to a specialist, such as a physical therapist or chiropractic doctor. Most back pain resolves with supportive treatments in just a few weeks and does not require an x-ray. 

Request an appointment with a doctor in Northwest Arkansas today.