6 Reasons for Back Pain

· March 3, 2018
Both a lack of and excessive physical activity can be risk factors when suffering from back pain, so it's important to adapt any activity to our abilities.

Back pain symptoms can vary greatly, and are often centered around discomfort in the spine area. It’s a problem that can reduce a person’s movements and quality of life considerably. But what are the reasons for back pain? We bring you six of the most common ones here.

Anyone can suffer from back pain. In fact, about two-thirds of the adult population suffers from it at some time or another.

The reasons for back pain

Most of the triggers for lower back pain are due to alterations in the structure that makes up the spine.

Among other things, it can affect:

  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Spinal discs
  • Vertebrae

Specific factors

A man with back pain.

There are specific reasons for back pain, such as trauma, poor posture and muscle weakness. The damage may also be due to excessive exertion and overload, which cause the pain in the back.

Non-specific factors

On the other hand, back pain may not be due to any of the above causes. There is pain that varies in intensity according to changes in posture. It can also vary when performing certain physical activities.

In these cases, we need to analyze different biological, social, structural and even psychological elements.

Risk factors

1. Stress and depression

A woman with depression.

According to several studies, both chronic and lower back pain are regularly associated with periods of stress, depression and anxiety.

  • Although the cause of the pain is physical, it has been shown that psychological factors have an important impact on the development and treatment of these discomforts. For this reason, it’s advisable to take a break and to try to relax.
  • We need to maintain a good sleeping schedule and include enjoyable activities in our daily routine.

Learn to relax with these: Easy Exercises to Relieve Stress and Improve Your Mood

2. Age

Over the years, there is natural wear and tear in our bodies, including in the spine and joints.

For this reason, back pain is more common in older people who usually suffer from ailments such as osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis.

In contrast, young people are affected by defined issues. Such is the case in disc herniation or degenerative diseases of the invertebral discs.

3. Genetics

A woman studying genetics.

Another of the reasons for back pain may be a genetic predisposition, especially in people who have symptoms of back pain and disc disease from a young age.

According to some studies, the mutated gene carbohydrate sulfotransferase 3 (CHST3) (see Bibliography below) seems to be responsible for increasing the risk of developing lumbar disc degeneration by 30%.

These investigations also indicate that if one of the parents has this gene, there is a 50% probability that the child will also suffer from it.

For this reason, it is best to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid intense physical exercise. If one possesses  said gene, weight lifting should be completely ruled out.

4. Labor risks

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers there to be a relationship between musculoskeletal disorders and physical effort during work.

Activities that require great effort are those in which one carries heavy loads. This involves moving, pushing or even using machines or tools.

However, back pain can also be caused by the number of repetitions and the number of hours per day that a single person is habitually exposed to such effort.

While occasional stress injuries are acute but brief, exposure to habitual stress can result in chronic injuries and disorders.

Some considerations that can be applied in these cases are carrying heavy loads close to the body and bending the knees to keep the back straight. Likewise, it is advisable to maintain a moderate pace when carrying out risky activities.

5. A sedentary lifestyle

A woman with neck pain.

Physical inactivity is one of the risk factors for mortality and it’s clear that it’s one of the major reasons for back pain.

It’s essential to stay active because active muscles retain their functional capacity, as do tendons and bones.

If we don’t do this, the biological structures will weaken and won’t have the strength to protect the spine and give the joints and ligaments stability.

In the end, a lack of muscle power will increase the risk of pain appearing or persisting.

Yes, sometimes it’s difficult to stay active, especially when you are in a sedentary work environment. However, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking instead of using the car are good strategies to increase physical activity.

See also: Foods You Need if You Have A Sedentary Job

6. Bad posture

Bad posture is one of the most common causes of back pain when there are no injuries in the region. The reason is due to the inadequate weight distribution of the head.

As a result, the muscles of the back are tensed and subjected to overexertion in order to find balance in the body.

The correct posture when standing keeps the head, shoulders, hips and ankles aligned.

However, if you are sitting, you should rest your feet on the floor, keep your knees at a right angle, keep your back against the chair’s back and, above all, avoid slouching.

Likewise, one should refrain from twisting or bending the waist as much as possible, since these movements are associated with an increased risk of back pain.

  • Song, Y. Q., Karasugi, T., Cheung, K. M. C., Chiba, K., Ho, D. W. H., Miyake, A., … Chan, D. (2013). Lumbar disc degeneration is linked to a carbohydrate sulfotransferase 3 variant. Journal of Clinical Investigation. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI69277
  • Unger, S., Lausch, E., Rossi, A., Mégarbané, A., Sillence, D., Alcausin, M., … Superti-Furga, A. (2010). Phenotypic features of carbohydrate sulfotransferase 3 (CHST3) deficiency in 24 patients: Congenital dislocations and vertebral changes as principal diagnostic features. American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.a.33641