Back pain

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Definition

Your spine is a column of bones (vertebrae) held together by muscles, tendons and ligaments and cushioned by shock-absorbing disks. A problem in any part of your spine can cause back pain. For some people, back pain is simply an annoyance. For others, it can be excruciating and disabling.

Most back pain even severe back pain goes away on its own in four to six weeks. Surgery is rarely needed for back pain and is generally considered only as a last resort.

Causes

A common cause of back pain is injury to a muscle (strain) or ligament (sprain). Strains and sprains can occur for many reasons, including improper lifting, poor posture and lack of regular exercise. Being overweight may increase your risk of strains and sprains affecting your back.

Back pain can also result from more-serious injuries, such as a vertebral fracture or ruptured disk; from arthritis and other age-related changes in your spine; and from certain infections.

Possible causes of back pain include:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • Herniated disk
  • Kidney infection
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Paget’s disease of bone
  • Poor posture
  • Pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sacroiliitis
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal stenosis

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