Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work and a leading cause of disability worldwide. Most people have back pain at least once in their lifetime.

Back pain often develops without a specific cause. Your doctor can identify with a test or imaging study. Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:

  • Muscle or ligament strain.  Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement may strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back may cause painful muscle spasms.
  • Bulging or ruptured discs.  Discs act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The soft material inside a disc can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve. However, you can have a bulging or ruptured disc without back pain. Disc disease is often found incidentally when you undergo spine X-rays for some other reason.
  • Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.
  • Skeletal irregularities.  Back pain can occur if your spine curves abnormally. Scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves to the side, also may lead to back pain, but generally only if the scoliosis is severe.
  • Your spine’s vertebrae can develop compression fractures if your bones become porous and brittle.

Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of problems.

Back pain is complex as it can be from a variety of sources. Back pain can come from spinal muscles, nerves, bones, discs or tendons in the lumbar spine.

Typical sources of low back pain include:

  • The large nerve roots in the low back that go to the legs may be irritated
  • The smaller nerves that supply the low back may be irritated
  • The large paired lower back muscles (erector spinae) may be strained
  • The bones, ligaments or joints may be damaged
  • An intervertebral disc may be degenerating
  • Vertebral body may fracture in elderly, women, and people with weak bones (osteopenia and osteoporosis).

Treatment commonly includes:

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