Causes of back pain

Back pain is common condition and in most cases, it is not usually caused by a serious problem.

Back pain usually gets better within a few weeks. During this time, it is important that you stay active, and limit bed rest.

What can cause back pain?

In most cases, it is not possible to identify the exact cause of back pain. It is important to know that any kind of structural damage is rare.

While it can be painful and upsetting, this type of back pain usually gets better quickly. It can be managed through  advice and remaining active.

Many physical or psychological factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved.

Many factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved.

They could be:

  • Physical factors, such as ‘protecting’ the back and avoiding movements, or a simple strain.
  • Psychological factors, including a fear of damage or not getting better, feeling down or being stressed.
  • More general health and lifestyle factors, like being tired and rundown, not getting enough good quality sleep, being overweight or not getting enough physical activity
  • Social triggers, such as difficult relationships at work or home, low job satisfaction or stressful life events, like a family death or illness.

Crucially, it’s important to know that all pain is 100 per cent real and never ‘all in your head’, even when factors like stress or mood are involved.

Each of the factors can turn up the volume on your pain and gaining a greater understanding of when that can happen puts you in a stronger position to recognise them and learn how to turn down the dial again.

Sometimes there are specific causes for back pain, especially when there is leg pain, pins and needles or numbness too. This can be caused by irritation or compression of the nerves in the back.

Symptoms to be aware of:

These symptoms are very rare but you should contact a doctor if you experience any of them:

  • Difficulty passing urine or having the sensation to pass water that is not there
  • Numbness / tingling in your genitals or buttocks area
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Impaired sexual function, such as loss of sensation during intercourse
  • Loss of power in your legs
  • If you are experiencing pain that runs down the back of both legs
  • Feeling unwell with your back pain, such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep