Low back pain is widespread, and is one of the most frequent reasons for people to seek health care. It is estimated that 80 percent of us will experience back pain by age 55, and it is the leading cause of long-term work disability.
While it is often thought that low back pain is primarily a condition of blue-collar workers, it is actually collar blind; affecting both blue and white collar workers.  A job or other activity that requires long periods of sitting, lifting, bending or twisting, or repetitive motions all increase the risk of having back pain. 

Some might ask why is low back pain so common?
The spine is composed of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and discs, and back pain arises if a problem occurs with any of these structures.

Below are 10 common causes of back pain:
1. Using bad posture and poor body mechanics while performing the activities of daily life can cause back pain.  For example, lifting a heavy object without bending at the knees, which causes you to use your back instead of your legs resulting in back pain.

2. Prolonged standing or sitting can also lead to back pain. Sitting or standing for long periods of time may cause the muscles that support the spine to tighten and cause back pain.

3. Low Back Strains are a common cause of low back pain.  They happen when muscles are overstretched or torn. Muscle strains occur when a sudden force, pull or twist is applied to the muscles in the back resulting in pain. 

4. Ligamentous Sprains are another common cause of back pain. They happen when the ligaments holding bones together are torn from their attachments. Sprains happen with quick, unexpected movements.

5. Painful Degenerative Discs are another cause of back pain. Discs act as cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. As we age, these discs can become thinner thereby losing some of their shock absorbing capacity.  With less cushioning, this can lead to back pain. 

6. Herniated/Ruptured Discs lead to back pain. The gelatinous material inside a disk may protrude or rupture and pinch a nerve. When this happens, a condition we commonly refer to as "Sciatica” occurs. This results when the herniated disc presses on the main nerve that travels down your leg and causes pain to radiate from the buttock down the back of the leg. 

7. Spinal Stenosis also causes back pain. After age 50, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal, compressing nerves within the canal. The compression of the nerves can lead to pain and numbness in the legs. 

8. Spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra in the spine slips out of place, causing pain. When one vertebra slips forward over the one beneath, the spinal canal becomes narrower. With less room to function in their natural position, the spinal cord and nerves become irritated and inflamed which causes painful symptoms.  

9. Osteoporosis can cause weak bones and can lead to fractures, known as compression fractures, which result in very uncomfortable back pain.

10. Facet Joint Osteoarthritis occurs when osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) causes a breakdown of the cartilage between the facet joints (small joints in the back). When the joints move, the lack of the cartilage causes pain as well as loss of motion and stiffness. This pain is usually more pronounced first thing in the morning and later in the day.

©2011 Winifred D. Bragg, MD. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Winifred D.Bragg, MD is a highly sought after keynote speaker, and author of Knockoutpain(R):Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back.

She is the CEO of the Spine and Orthopedic Pain Center where she uses state of the art techniques to provide patients with non-surgical solutions to treat orthopedic problems of the upper and lower extremities as well as spinal conditions.

She delivers powerful messages on the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and a commitment to self-improvement as key elements to succeed.