What causes back pain?

Causes of back pain. Back pain can strike anyone at any age, although figures show you are most vulnerable if you’re between 45 and 59. But the seriousness of the condition varies. If the pain lasts for less than three months, you have what is called acute back pain. If your problem goes on for longer, you’re suffering from chronic back pain.

If you experience acute back pain, it’s quite likely to have a simple cause – this is the case with 95% of all cases of acute back pain. Most people who suffer from this sort of back pain are adults up to 55 years old who are otherwise healthy. The pain is short-lived, and has quite a simple physical cause - though it may well be due to strain over time, rather than the result of overdoing it just once.

The pain is based in the lower back, and maybe also in the buttocks and thighs. It will come and go at different times, and depending on what you are doing.

You may get simple back pain if:

• you have a poor posture
• you don’t get enough exercise
• you stand or bend down for long periods
• your chair doesn’t provide enough back support
• your mattress doesn’t provide enough back support
• you lift, carry, push or pull loads that are simply too heavy for you, or you go about these tasks in the wrong way
• you trip or fall over

Nerve root pain accounts for fewer than 5% of all cases of back pain. Here the pain is caused by compression of the nerves that run up the middle of the vertebrae in your back. It is usually caused by a damaged disc, or because a vertebra has slipped out of line with the others. The pain will normally be in your lower back, plus more severe pain down one or both of your legs to your calves, feet or toes.

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