Most people at some time in their life will experience back pain. Most cases of back pain aren't caused by serious damage or disease but by minor sprains, strains or injuries, or a pinched or irritated nerve.
Back pain can be triggered by everyday activities at home or at work, or it can develop gradually, over time.
Back pain sometimes develops suddenly for no apparent reason. For example, you may wake up one morning with back pain and have no idea what's caused it.
Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing back pain. These include:
- being overweight - the extra weight puts pressure on the spine; you can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to find out if you need to lose weight
- smoking - this may be due to tissue damage in the back caused by smoking or the fact that people who smoke tend to have unhealthier lifestyles than people who don't smoke; get help quitting
- being pregnant - the extra weight of carrying a baby can place additional strain on the back
- long-term use of medication known to weaken bones - such as corticosteroids
- stress - stress is thought to cause tension in the back muscles which can lead to back pain
- depression - back pain can make you feel depressed, which can sometimes result in weight gain which leads to increased pain and worsening depression
Prevention Keeping your back strong and supple is the best way to avoid getting back pain. Regular exercise, maintaining good posture and lifting correctly will all help.
If you have recurring bouts of back pain, the following advice may be useful: