While there are a few known back pain culprits, the vast majority of cases are idiopathic. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “In primary care practice, the specific anatomic cause of back pain is often impossible to define, and only a small percentage of patients have an identifiable underlying cause.” However, it is possible to offer guesses at what may have caused the back pain, and it is relatively easy to assess the extent of the damage in order to prescribe effective treatment.
Injury. One of the most common culprits of back pain, various types of injuries can result in fractures, intervertebral disc ruptures, or strain in the muscles and ligaments. The back is one of the most important — and most vulnerable — parts of the human body. Common sources of injury are improper lifting, automobile accidents and additional strain from being overweight or obese.
Posture. Especially when back pain is centered in the low back, posture may be a significant back pain culprit. While good posture eases the strain on the back while sitting or standing, bad posture can significantly increase that strain while extending the back beyond comfortable limits.
Anatomy. In some cases, abnormal curvature of the spine, bone spurs or other such factors contribute to or cause back pain. Some of these issues may be visible to a trained eye with just a clinical visit, while others may require diagnostic imaging in order to determine the nature of the anatomical abnormality. Even if abnormalities are found, this doesn’t conclusively implicate it as a back pain culprit.
Treatments. Surgery for back pain is relatively rare. In most cases, treatment consists of managing symptoms and making small changes to relieve the strain on your back. Your doctor may be able to suggest changes in the way you move that may be able to relieve at least some of the pain. Certain types of exercises may help, and either over-the-counter or prescription pain medications are often recommended.