Back Pain

Your spine consists of 33 bones known as vertebrae and is one of the most complex systems in your entire body. It comprises of bones, nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.

There are many causes of back pain, including aches, tension and stiffness. Generic pain like this can be hard to diagnose and can affect anyone at any time in their life. Usually, pain can be attributed to a strained tendon, muscle or ligament. Keeping mobile and taking painkillers will usually solve these kinds of back pain; more serious damage will require more specific treatments.

How can you help yourself?

To reduce your risk of developing back pain, follow this checklist:

  • Do gentle exercise such as cycling, walking and swimming
  • Stop smoking as it can cause tissue damage
  • Maintain a good posture – stand straight
  • Stay healthy, fit and an appropriate size for your height
  • Stretch before and after any sporting activity
  • If carrying heavy objects be sure to distribute the weight evenly

The symptoms of back pain

Middle to upper back pain

Pain in this area reaches from the base of your ribcage to the bottom of your neck, with symptoms including burning, sharp or dull pains, possibly also affecting your chest, arms or legs.

Any weakness felt in your arms or legs, tingling sensations in your arms, legs, chest or stomach, or a loss of bladder and bowel control should be met with immediate medical attention.

Lower back pain

Non-specific back pain can result from awkwardly twisting or bending your back and not taking care when lifting heavy objects. Complaints often centre on:

  • Soreness
  • Stiffness
  • Tension

Causes of back pain

Identifying the root cause of non-specific back pain can be difficult, however if you have a poor posture, spend long periods of time in one position (such as sitting or standing) or are obese, these could all affect the state of your back. Similarly lifting heavy loads on a regular basis, repetitive strain injury or overstretching can also aggravate back pain.

Sometimes, however, the cause of back pain is because of damage to parts of your spine. These may include a slipped disc, fractured or broken bones or rheumatoid arthritis (an inflammatory condition that can affect flexible joints). Other causes include:

  • Spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal thus trapping nerves
  • Osteoporosis – a progressive disease causing bones to lose their density and become prone to fracture
  • Osteoarthritis – a degenerative disease affecting the joints of your spine
  • Spondylolisthesis – displaced vertebrae
  • Degenerative disc disease – where the intervertebral discs wear down, causing chronic back pain


The above is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Back Pain Consultants