What are Some Causes of Back Aches?

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis, a common cause of back pain.
Pregnant women often have back aches.
Sleep position can contribute to back aches.
Taking birth control pills can help some women get rid of back pain associated with difficult periods.
Injury is a common cause of back aches.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Back aches are a frequent complaint in adults and can result from numerous causes. They can be pain felt in any part of the back, though the cause tends to localize the pain to certain areas, like the lower or upper back or the neck. Certain conditions can predispose one toward feeling back pain.

Certain conditions like pregnancy or being in the middle of a menstrual period can cause lower back aches. For these types, mild pain relievers may be of help, though pregnant women should seek guidance from their obstetrician prior to taking any medication, even if can be obtained over the counter. Sometimes, taking birth control pills can help women who have difficult periods to eliminate some back pain.

Obesity, or even simply carrying a few extra pounds is a common cause of back aches. Usually this is most felt in the lower back, but pain may also be felt in the neck as well. Often shedding pounds can help eliminate this type of pain.

Pain may also be caused by the positions in which one sleeps, or the kind of mattress upon which one sleeps. Usually back aches of this type can be helped through positional changes. However, positions may be hard to maintain once one is asleep.

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Improper seating positions during the day may also result in back problems. Back pain caused by poor seating positions can be reduced by taking a break from sitting and stretching once an hour. As well, maintaining good posture while sitting, or using ergonomically designed chairs can ease back pain caused by improper seating.

Some back aches result from deterioration in the discs of the spine. This can cause nerves to gradually become pinched and thus make the person be in pain constantly. Herniated, or damaged discs tend to result in upper rather than lower back pain, and also may cause neck discomfort. Often surgery must be undertaken to repair the discs when possible, or to fuse the spine.

In adults who are elderly, a common cause of back aches is arthritis in the spine. This type of pain may be felt anywhere on the back and feels worse when one is just waking, and at night. Normally, gentle movement can help reduce this type of pain, especially when coupled with exercise like yoga or Tai Chi. The condition is, however, degenerative, so those affected cannot be cured.

Aging adults may also suffer from cervical stenosis, a tightening of the spinal cord that can result in significant pain. Cervical stenosis is also associated with significant pain in the neck, arms and legs. It may over time, inhibit movement.

Injury to the back can result in back aches in numerous locations. For example, a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder can cause pain not only in the shoulder but also the neck and upper back. Trauma to the back from fractures or strain can result in lower back pain.

Most doctors recommend reducing injury through regular exercise and weight loss. If we only exercise occasionally, or not at all, we will likely experience more back problems with any type of vigorous activity. Weight reduction in those who are overweight is encouraged. As well, strong abdominal muscles can be of significant help in combating lower back aches. These solutions will not eliminate all back pain, but even some elimination of back pain is a goal worth achieving.

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Discuss this Article

mutsy
Post 4

SauteePan -Tell me about it. I had the worst back aches in my last pregnancy. The doctor told me to sleep with a pillow between my legs and make sure that I bend my knees and have my legs parallel in order to support my lower back.

I also used a heating pad on my back and it helped a little, but a nurse told me that controlled breathing exercises help to control the pain especially when I was experiencing back labor.

SauteePan
Post 3

Cupcake15 -I have seen those mattresses, but my husband doesn’t like the Tempur- Pedic mattress because once you sit on it the mattress takes the shape of your body and it leaves a little groove which makes it hard to get off the mattress.

I prefer a latex pillowtop mattress instead. I have a Kingsdown and it is wonderful. I used to have aching back muscles every night but after I got the Kingsdown mattress I never had a problem.

Back pain can really make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep because there is no position that is comfortable.

cupcake15
Post 2

I have to agree. I think that poor posture over time tends to cause back problems, but so does sleeping on the wrong mattress.

I recently went to a Relax the Back store. They specialize in products that offer back ache relief. The Tempur-Pedic mattresses that they sell are great for your back. These mattresses offer a 20 year warranty because it is so good.

It contains special memory foam that relieves pressure points which eases back pain. With this mattress your body sits in perfect alignment because of the support that is offers which eliminate tossing and turning.

They suggested that if your mattress is ten years or older that it might be time to get a new mattress and that could be the source of the back pain.

They also told me that about 60% of Americans experience back pain on a regular basis.

aaaCookie
Post 1

People who work long hours sitting or standing often complain of an aching back, and it is becoming more and more of a problem. I really think that in the coming years, businesses as a whole need to take more steps towards taking care of their employees' bodies and making working conditions less monotonous and painful.

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