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Suffering From Severe Back Pain? - Find Out What's Causing Them

Updated on July 29, 2017

So many books, Ebooks, medical journals and medical bulletins have been written about back pain but it seems like nobody, up to this very day, has found a cure to end this suffering once and for all.

The skeletal muscles, bones, joints and nerves of our back and other parts of our spine are the usual places where much of the back pain in this world originates. The pain coming from the muscles could be caused by a pulled muscle, muscle spasms and the lack of muscle balance.

Other sources of back pain are the synovial joints located in the spine, infection, cancer, inflammation, trauma, lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

Back pain can be classified into 4 types based on its location in the body. It can be felt in

  • the neck area, (neck pain),
  • the middle back area (middle back pain),
  • the lower back area (lower back pain) and;
  • the butt area (tailbone pain).

It can also be classified by how long an individual suffers from it:

  • acute which is experienced for less than 4 weeks
  • sub-acute from 4-12 weeks and;
  • chronic for more than 12 weeks.

Back pain is also classified into non-specific back pain, back pain accompanied by spinal stenosis or caused by radiculopathy, and back pain that is accompanied by another underlying illness.


Let's start with the pain originating from the lower back. Lower back pain, the second most complained-about ailment second only to headache, and the major cause of disability in the US workplace affects the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments of the back.

Lower back pain, or lumbago, is felt when the soft tissues and muscles of the back suffer either a sprain or a strain. You get a strain when your muscles or tendons tear off brought about by too much stretching and you get a sprain when it's your ligaments that are overstretched.

Our lower back region or lumbar region, is composed of five bones of the vertebral column. These bones are filled, in between, with intervertebral discs which serve as shock absorbers to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other and to protect the spinal cord from injury and trauma. Injury or damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments is what's causing the pain in your lower back..

It is the muscles and ligaments of the back and the abdomen that provide protection and stability to our spine and the areas surrounding it.

The lumbar region contains different complex parts that may cause the pain such as the spinal nerve roots and blood vessels, facet joints, vertebral periosteum, paravertebral masculature and fascia, annulus fibrosus exterior fibers, and the ligaments responsible for interconnecting and joining the vertebral bones. The kind of pain produced from these complex parts may be due to:

  • injuries to the muscles and ligaments
  • changes in the facet joints and internal disks
  • herniation of the nucleus polposus and irritation of the roots of the nerves
  • spinal stenosis
  • anatomic problems associated with the spine
  • metastatic cancer
  • diseases affecting other organs such as the kidneys, aorta, pelvic bones and gastrointestinal tract


Awkward trunk posture is one of the leading causes of back pain. It can be the result of poor office layout, poorly designed and poorly-located office equipment and machines.

In a study conducted among automobile workers to determine the cause of their back pain complaints, it was discovered that lateral bending, axial twisting, and forward flexion were the factors that contributed to their back pain.

The reported recommended that bad posture can be avoided by redesigning workstations and by implementing better office systems to minimize balanced posture among workers in the workplace.

The characteristics of back pain suffered by helicopter crew, drivers and heavy-machine operators are similar for which the identified causes are bad posture and exposure to constant vibration.


Possible treatment of back pain are anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics, and bed rest. These three have been studied and analyzed for the treatment of non-radiating low back pain and the results revealed the following facts:

Bed rest, rather than getting active or moving around, can significantly reduce by half the time lost from being absent from work and can reduce by 60 percent the amount of inconvenience and discomfort to the patient.

Complementing bed rest with pain relievers will have a significant impact in alleviating extreme pain especially when taken during the first three days of recuperating. But taking pain relievers alone cannot make you go back to work as early as you would like to.

Finally, anti-inflammatory medicines when used together with bed rest to treat lower back pain cannot treat the pain better than when bed rest alone is used.

Neck Pain

Neck pain, as the name suggests, originates from the neck and is most of the time caused by problems affecting the spine. The pain occurs when the muscles in the neck start to tighten which eventually leads to what we commonly call neck pain.

The tightening of the neck that leads to neck pain occurs when the lower neck and the upper back - the parts of the neck that support the head - are badly affected. The first three bones located on the upper part of the neck are responsible for the normal movement of your neck and head.


Cancer of the head and neck

Cancer of the head and neck include cancer of the mouth and accounts for 4 percent of the total cancer cases. Cancer of the mouth refers to tumors that develop in the mucous membranes of the mouth.

Its classification is based on the origin of the tumor such as the mouth floor, the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, tonsils and palate

Carotid artery dissection

This is a condition where the artery wall layers that supply blood to the head and the brain have been severed or separated.

Acute coronary syndrome

ACS are symptoms associated with blocked coronary arteries, most common of which is chest pain that radiates to the left arm accompanied by sweating and a nauseous feeling.

Spinal stenosis

This is a narrowing of any part of the spinal canal that leads to various neurological disorders. This condition primarily affects the vertebral canal where the nerves pass through.


Spinal disc herniation

Infections like epiglottis and retropharyngeal abscess

Middle Back Pain

Middle back pain also called upper back pain is characterized by pain that occurs in the area starting from the back of the neck to the upper part of the spine.

There is no known cause of pain the upper back but these factors are believed to contribute to the pain in the upper back:

1. problems in the ribs and soft tissues of the body

2. spinal facet joint problems

3. pain coming from intervertebral discs

4. pain in the muscles

Other common causes of pain in the back are fractured vertebra and trauma especially after an accident or surgery.

Women 50 years and over who experience pain in the upper back could be suffering from vertebral fracture due to osteoporosis.

© 2012 Zee Mercado


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