Back pain is a common medical problem. Almost 65 million Americans have experienced it recently! If you’re one of the 39% of American adults who has suffered back pain, then you have probably wondered about the cause of your discomfort. It is impossible to say for certain before you have been assessed by a doctor or chiropractor – but the odds are your back pain is attributable to one of the five common causes.


Poor Posture


If you have poor posture, you are placing needless extra pressure against your spine. Poor posture forces your back muscles to work harder than they have to, which in turn causes spasming and in some cases strains. Poor posture can also constrict the nerves and muscles in your back, which may eventually manifest as pain in addition to problems with your joints and shock-absorbing vertebral discs.


Note that good posture isn’t only important while you are standing and walking. Back pain may also occur as the result of poor posture while you are sitting down or lifting heavy objects!




Your spine is a column of bones and cushioning discs, with a network of muscles and ligaments to hold everything together. Like any other mechanical construct, your spine will wear out faster when you place more stress on it. And for every extra pound of weight your body carries, an additional four pounds of pressure is exerted on your spine!


Excess belly fat can also cause your lower back to slant forward. This deviation from its natural curvature places even greater pressure against your spine, which only increases your risk of back pain even further.




Injuries – and especially sports injuries – are one of the leading causes of back pain among otherwise healthy people. These back injuries commonly include:


  • Sprains and strains – The spine is surrounded by a complex system of muscles and ligaments. When these soft tissues respectively overstretch or tear, they can cause painful inflammation and spasming. 


  • Herniated discs – The spine’s vertebrae are buffered by supple, cartilaginous discs. Each disc consists of a soft center (nucleus) and tougher exterior (annulus). When it herniates, the disc’s nucleus ruptures through its annulus. Herniated discs commonly occur in the lower back where they can cause pain and numbness.


  • Fractured vertebrae – Sudden impact can cause vertebrae to violently compress or pull apart from each other. Spinal fractures are commonly accompanied by neck and back pain that inhibits movement, and may also be accompanied by tingling, numbness or weakness in the limbs.




Osteoarthritis is the most common form of spinal arthritis. It is caused by deterioration of the cartilage that separates vertebrae, and frequently presents itself in the lower spine. Once their protective layers of cartilage have sufficiently worn away, the facet joints between the vertebrae can become pressurized and begin grinding against one another. This accelerates damage to the remaining cartilage, which can result in significant pain accompanied by loss of mobility.


When the vertebrae of the neck degenerate, the condition is called cervical spondylosis. While it is typically symptomless, cervical spondylosis may be accompanied by pain and stiffness in the neck.




Osteoporosis occurs when the body doesn’t create new bone tissue as quickly as it absorbs old bone tissue. Although it is not painful on its own, severe osteoporosis can cause acute back pain (especially while the patient is standing). If the vertebrae of the spine become sufficiently atrophied, their partial collapse can cause a variety of symptoms including severe back pain.


Osteoporosis can also cause kyphosis. Also known as “dowager’s hump,” kyphosis can produce curvature of the spine that becomes especially painful in extreme cases.


How to Prevent Back Pain


Avoiding back pain is as simple as taking steps to prevent its common causes. Exercise good posture while you are standing, walking, sitting and lifting. If you are currently obese, consider losing some of the weight that is needlessly wearing out your irreplaceable vertebrae and discs. Wear suitable protective equipment while you are playing sports, and don’t continue training once you become physically exhausted. And if you are at risk of osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, receive a medical screening and follow your physician’s expert advice.

If you are currently living with back pain for any reason, then we welcome you to schedule a consultation at Fargo Spine’s chiropractic clinic in Fargo, ND today! As team chiropractor for the NDSU football team, we are adept at treating all manners of sports injuries, but our practice is equally suited to your unique needs no matter the source of your back pain.