By Walter N. Rabhan, MDWalter N. Rabhan, MD | Tuckahoe Orthopaedics

Back pain is common for many individuals, both young and old. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less irritating for those who are experiencing discomfort. Let’s take a quick look, then, at why back pain happens, as well as some of the common reasons for its occurrence.

Why Back Pain Happens

Back pain usually takes place when a person is standing and lessens when sitting down. Consistent pounding caused by activities such as running can also put more pressure on the spine.

The more pressure the spine receives, the more pressure there will be on the muscles. This can cause the muscles to tighten up and the back pain will then be manifested as a spasm.

As you age, your muscles and ligaments receive a larger amount of pressure. Oftentimes, people who are experiencing the worst cases of back pain are not taking care of their backs.

In general, however, back pain may occur from things like sprains of muscles and ligaments, spinal stenosis, and ruptured discs.

Below is a little more detail on the most common causes of back pain.

Most Common Causes of Back Pain


Sprains are the number one cause of back pain and can be caused by any activity you can imagine. Activities such as gardening, working out, lifting objects, and even getting in and out of a car can result in a back sprain.

When a person sprains his back, there are small minor tears of muscles and ligaments. This very often results in spasms. It’s important to note, however, that a spasm is a symptom of a back sprain – not the cause itself.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of spaces in the spine (backbone) that results in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. In cases of spinal stenosis, pressure on the lower part of the spinal cord — or on nerve roots branching out from that area — may give rise to pain or numbness in the legs.

Ruptured Discs 

Most ruptured discs occur in the lower back area. A ruptured disc may cause not only back pain, but also referred pain in the legs.

Recommendations for Those Experiencing Back Pain

When experiencing back pain, the best advice a person should follow is to take it easy for a few days.

It is also recommended to use over-the-counter NSAID medications, as well as hot packs and/or cold packs (either can help relieve the pain).

Remember that back pain can be caused by poor physical condition in general, so if you believe back strain is the problem you should first try back stretching or a back exercise program. Strengthening the core as a part of a healthy exercise program also almost always helps prevent back pain. Lower back pain may be indicative of a larger problem than just strain, and should be addressed by your doctor.

If you have additional questions on the back pain you are experiencing, I encourage you to contact us to schedule an appointment.


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