What Causes Back Pain? You May Be Surprised

By | May 16, 2013

Some causes of back pain are obvious — like an injury that causes immediate pain or nerve damage from something you did years ago that flares up every few months.

Other causes are less obvious but just as devastating to the quality of your life.

Almost everyone deals with back pain occasionally, but chronic back pain needs to be handled in some way before it causes a downward spiral of symptoms from which it’s difficult to recover.


So let’s take a look at what causes back pain — some of them things you might not already know about. Then, you can decide for yourself whether any of these could be a problem for you.

Here are five common causes of back pain that your doctor may be overlooking:

1. Inflammation.

An increasing number of health professionals now understand the negative impact that inflammation can have on people’s lives. Some give this inflammation a name like chronic fatigue syndrome, but it’s simply a low-grade, generalized swelling across your entire body. Some experts think that consuming gluten, drinking too many caffeinated beverages or eating meat causes their inflammation. Analgesics can temporarily release you from symptoms, but dietary changes and perhaps supplements are necessary to eliminate the problem.


2. Emotional stress.

Chronic back pain and shoulder pain is often caused by emotional stress brought about by financial or family issues or workplace concerns. Getting rid of your job and family might reduce this kind of pain, but since that isn’t practical, most people rely on pain medicines, gentle stretching exercises and even emotional support supplements with natural ingredients to help relieve stress symptoms — or at least make you feel better about them.

3. Under-use of core muscles.

While we tend to blame back pain on something we’ve done to our back, in many cases the cause is something we haven’t done. Sitting for too long without breaks, reclining in a position that puts physical stress on the neck or low back without shifting or standing without walking around can cause almost unbearable back pain. Fortunately, a walk outdoors on a nice level sidewalk is the best cure, and that’s something most people can accomplish if you take the time to do it.


4. Overuse or improper use.

That’s right. When you’re trying to decide what causes back pain, you have to consider whether you’ve overused your back muscles or used them in an unusual or improper way. In other words, have you done something you don’t usually do or something you shouldn’t have? If that’s the case, reduce your symptoms by resting the sore muscles. A heating pad or hand-held massager applied in just the right location can do a lot of good for these kinds of back injuries.

5. Bad sleeping habits.

Getting a new bed can significantly improve back symptoms, but changing to a memory foam pillow that supports you back better, adding a foam spacer between you knees while sleeping or simply refraining from sleeping on your stomach — which strains both the lower and upper back — can help too. Try to sleep in an elongated position, not curled up in a ball. And keep your jaw open but your mouth closed to prevent pain in your jaw and head that can make neck pain feel worse.

So what causes back pain? All sorts of things. But making sure your back pain isn’t the result of one of these five situations can go a long way toward helping you shape a better, pain-free life for yourself.

In other words, you can get over chronic back pain in many cases simply by avoiding these common causes of back pain whenever you can.