The Top Five Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Back pain: Chances are, you’re like 80 percent of all Americans and have experienced it at least once in your lifetime and it dissipated on its own. But chronic back pain caused by an underlying condition can be debilitating—yet only one out of every 10 people see a doctor to determine its cause and receive treatment.

Chronic back pain symptoms cover a wide spectrum: From muscle aches, shooting or stabbing pain, pain that doesn’t lessen with rest, and muscle spasms to burning that travels to your thighs, legs, and feet, numbness, and inflammation. There are many causes for such symptoms. Here are the five most common and how to treat them.

  1. Poor Posture and/or Sedentary Lifestyle
    Just like you can condition your body to strengthen over time, the opposite can happen too. By not using certain muscles, such as those in your back, you’re actually weakening them, which can lead to persistent pain. This is commonly found in people who sit at work desks with incorrect posture, which forces the body to push unnaturally on the spine, neck, discs, and ligaments. In most cases, this can be corrected by adopting a proper posture and taking regular breaks to walk and stretch.
  2. Trauma
    There are a variety of physical traumas and injuries that can lead to chronic back pain. If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall, car accident, injured yourself working out or performing another strenuous activity, you may be at risk. You should schedule an appointment with an orthopedist as soon as possible following any traumatic event to ensure proper treatment and healing.
  3. Overuse
    Does your job or a hobby include an activity that requires a repeated motion, like lifting boxes or throwing a ball? That’s a very common cause of upper back pain that can lead to muscle strain, tightness and irritation, which could become chronic if left untreated. Preliminary treatment of overuse pain is periods of rest and heat or ice packs to promote proper blood circulation. If the pain persists and begins to interfere with your job or hobby, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist.
  4. Herniated Disc
    While most common in the lower back, herniated discs can also occur in the upper back and neck. A disc serves as a flexible “cushion” between each of the back’s vertebra; herniated discs occur when part of this “cushion” pokes through to apply pressure on a nerve. This pressure can cause significant pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and other symptoms. While most herniated discs can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy, you should still see an orthopedic specialist to rule out surgery.

Do you think you’re suffering from one of these conditions—or experiencing chronic back pain from another cause? Contact Orlin & Cohen, Long Island’s leading orthopedic practice with a team of fellowship-trained spine, neck and back subspecialists. Immediate appointments are available: Schedule yours now.