What Is General Back Pain and Why Does It Develop?
General back pain is the most common ailment experienced by people in the United States. In fact, it is among the most common reasons that people miss work and visit doctors. Dr. Joel D. Siegal and his team at Key Clinics can help figure out the source of your back pain and develop a helpful treatment plan to get you back on your feet.
Symptoms of General Back Pain
General back pain can come on suddenly or develop over time and can last for days, weeks, or years. Muscle aches, stabbing, or shooting discomfort in the lower back can worsen with bending, lifting, twisting, walking or standing. Symptoms can fluctuate with position changes such as lying down or remaining upright.
General back pain may be a sign of a serious medical condition that needs prompt attention. If you experience low back pain that is not improving and/or worsening, it is vital that you call Dr. Siegal at Key Clinics for an appointment.
Warning signs of a potentially serious underlying condition:
- Bowel and/or bladder problems with incontinence
- Spread of symptoms to your legs including numbness, pain, and/or weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain that does not improve over several days
- Pain resulting from a significant fall, injury, or trauma
- Pain that first develops after age 50
- History of arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, drug or alcohol abuse, or steroid use
Common Causes of General Back Pain
The following are some of the primary causes of general back pain:
- Arthritis – Lumbar spondylosis or aging changes of the lumbar spine can cause low back pain and discomfort. More severe arthritic changes can cause the space in the spinal canal around the nerve sac to narrow, a condition known as spinal stenosis.
- Bulging or Ruptured Discs – In between the vertebrae of the spine are discs made of cartilage shock absorbers. If the gel-like substance inside a disc bulges or ruptures, it can put pressure on the nerves. While there are times when a person can have a bulging or ruptured disc without feeling any back or leg pain, most people know right away that something is wrong.
- Compression Fractures – Low bone density, known as osteoporosis, can cause the vertebrae to break and develop compression fractures because the bones are brittle, porous, and weak.
- Ligament or Muscle Sprain/Strain – Improper lifting, bending, or twisting can cause ligamentous and muscle sprain/strain. People in poor health or conditioning can also suffer from a constant/repetitive sprain/strain with continuous muscle spasms and pain.
- Scoliosis – Over time, the development or progression of an abnormal spinal curvature can produce or worsen low back pain.
Risk Factors for General Back Pain
General back pain affects adults, teens, and children. At Key Clinics, we encourage a healthy lifestyle to avoid back pain and we are here to help those in need. Risk factors for developing low back pain include:
- Age – Generally starting around age 40, people begin complaining of back pain due to normal wear and tear.
- Medical Conditions – Cancer, arthritis, kidney, and vascular issues also can cause significant low back pain.
- Excess Weight – Carrying around too much weight for your body type puts a significant strain on your back.
- Heavy and Improper Lifting – Heavy lifting at work or lifting things the “wrong way” can cause general back pain.
- Lack of Exercise – For a strong and healthy back, you need at least 30 minutes of exercise several days a week to strengthen your core muscles for optimal support of the spine.
- Smoking – Because smoking reduces blood flow to the spine, discs in the lumbar region do not always get the needed nutrients and can deteriorate. Smoking also increases the vertebrae fracture risk by lowering bone density and strength.