We often get asked, “What is the most common cause of back pain?”

Really, what people want to know is “What is the back pain I need to be most worried about?”

Back pain can be more than just limiting; it can be debilitating, putting you out of commission for days or even weeks at a time.

Some people spend their entire lives wrestling with back pain, and never regain full range of motion or mobility.

We’re going to answer the question, “What is the most common cause of back pain?” so you can be aware of how best to take care of your back.

With a few smart changes to your daily activity and exercise routines, you can decrease your risk of back pain and increase your spinal health exponentially!

What is the Most Common Cause of Back Pain?

There is no single most common cause of back pain; in fact, there are two types of back pains you need to know about:

  1. Muscle strain. This is when the muscle gets stretched too far, and there is damage in the form of a muscular tear.

  2. Ligament sprain. This is when ligaments (which connect bones together) are over-stretched, and end up being damaged in the form of a ligament tear.

Both of these injuries are typically caused by the same things:

  • Twisting your spine while lifting something heavy

  • Lifting something heavy or excessively heavy

  • Falls or impacts

  • Sudden movements, especially movements that involve the lower spine

  • Injuries caused by sports (such as injuries caused by a sudden twist, or a direct impact to the spine)

  • Bad posture (which takes months or years to cause damage)

All of these above-mentioned injuries can lead to damage in your spinal muscles or ligaments.

When the muscles or connective tissue is damaged, your body typically triggers an inflammatory response, causing the area around the injury site to swell up. This swelling can cause the stiffness you feel, and can place painful pressure on the spine. Thus, not only do you feel the sharp pain of the torn muscle or ligament, but you also have that low-key, throbbing pain caused by the inflammatory response.

This is where the primary treatments of “PRICE” come in handy:

  • P is for Protection – Using a back brace or some kind of back support will help to protect the injured area from further damage, reducing the risk that the sprain or strain will grow.

  • R is for Rest – Rest means you lie down somewhere with good back support, taking the weight off your spine. This allows the injured soft tissue to recover more quickly, rather than continuing to use the muscles and joints around the stiff, swollen injury site.

  • I is for Ice – Using ice immediately after an injury basically freezes the injury site, preventing blood from flowing to the area. This helps to reduce the inflammatory response and decreases the amount of swelling around the injury site.

  • C is for Compression – A bit of compression to the injured area can also decrease blood flow, preventing the inflammatory response. Compression will help to provide support and protect the injury site, speeding up recovery time and reducing further injury.

  • E is for Elevation – This is typically utilized for limb injures, but sometimes elevating your back can help. Specifically, using an inversion table to lower your head below the level of the injured area and elongate your spine. (Be sure to check with your doctor before using an inversion table for any acute back injuries!)

The good news is that while these two injuries (muscle strain and ligament sprain) are the most common causes of back pain, they’re also the least likely to cause long-term damage. They typically trigger acute (sharp and sudden) pain, but will usually heal up with proper rest and recovery. They’re far less likely to develop into chronic (long-term) pain than other back injuries, like a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease.

Want to know one of the best things you can do to protect your back, reduce existing back pain, and prevent pains in the future? Stretch!

Stretching helps to loosen up stiff muscles and joints all over your body. It’s not just focused on your spinal muscles and joints, but those in your neck, shoulders, pelvis, and knees, all of which can increase the risk of back injury. All of the posterior chain muscles and joints (on the rear of your body) need you to spend time loosening them up and working them out so they can move easily and naturally.

Stretching before and after a workout is excellent for reducing your risk of lower back pain, and can speed up post-workout recovery. Spend some time stretching at home, too, when you’re watching TV or relaxing in the evening. The more limber you are, the lower your risk of painful back injury!

What is the Most Common Cause of Back Pain? Find Out More with Back on Track

Back on Track System is our solution to help you not only manage back pain, but take back control of your life so you can enjoy many pain-free years to come!

Back on Track focuses on a little-known yet highly dangerous syndrome behind the back aches and pains that so many people live with every day. It will help you understand the causes of your back pain, understand what aspects of your lifestyle are making you more vulnerable, and help you take steps to correct the problem.

With Back on Track, you’ll be able to ease even the worst back pain and increase your mobility significantly—far more quickly than you ever thought possible. You won’t have to ask “What is the most common cause of back pain?” because you’ll live a pain-free life.