Why does your back hurt?

There are many reasons why you may experience pain in your back. Find out what's going on here.

There are many reasons why you may experience pain in your back. Poor posture, of course, is one major culprit of back pain, which can be caused by sitting incorrectly, persistent hunching over and slouching. But there are other causes of back pain, many of which are a consequence of simple daily activities such as gardening, lifting and even bending down.

Your back is a complex piece of engineering made up of bones, muscles, nerves and joints. It can be damaged in an instant by lifting a heavy object or simply over time as parts of your back wear out through constant use.

When you disturb the mechanism of your back by stretching, tearing, squashing or displacing something, you stimulate its pain receptors, which cause your muscles to flex and act like a protective splint.

But what types of injuries are associated with back pain? What should you look out for?

MUSCLE AND LIGAMENT INJURIES

A lot of back pain is caused by muscle and ligament injuries when strains and sprains have overstretched them. It can, therefore, become more complicated if your muscle fibres tear. When this happens, your joints can become much less protected, which can in turn accelerate wear and tear that occurs as part of a natural ageing process.

Pain in your back can also be caused by damage to a shock absorbing disc, which has been torn or ruptured by physical stress or injury. What happens is that the gel inside can leak out leading to inflammation, nerve pressure and pain. You will probably have heard of this referred to as a herniated, prolapsed or slipped disc.

A herniated disc can lead to sciatica, which is the name given to any sort of pain caused by irritation or compression to the sciatic nerve running from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks and down both legs to the feet.

Osteoarthritis will also lead to pain in your back and this happens when a disc, mainly in your lower back, changes with age. You will usually feel pain if your discs deteriorate and your joints rub against each other.

Damage to the bones in your back will also cause back pain, as the vertebrae, like any other bones, can be fractured by a fall, car crash or even vigorous exercise.

LIFESTYLE AND BACK PAIN

If you have back pain, you should also consider other lifestyle effects. Being overweight, for instance, will put pressure on your spine; smoking, another culprit, can cause tissue damage in the back; and extra weight you carry in pregnancy can add strain to your back. And if you are experiencing a high level of stress, your back muscles can tense up and cause pain. Even viral infections, like influenza, can cause back pain.

When push comes to shove, though, most damage to your back is usually cumulative, caused by degenerative change and ageing. But this isn’t to say there’s no hope. There are many preventative methods available, like building exercise routines into your daily life, or even using supportive products, like the Posture Hero, to help with your back pain.