Back Pain: What kind do I have?

It’s estimated that up to 90% of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives. If you’re one of them, you know how difficult it can be to go about your normal life with back pain. Back pain can strike at any time. It’s a symptom of one of several different problems and not a specific disease. However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be treated. Through physical therapy you can find the relief you’re looking for and reduce the likelihood that you’ll have back pain in the future.

Common Causes of Back Pain

There are many different causes for back pain. Considering the fact that your back is a complex network of muscles, tendons and ligaments, it’s no surprise that this are of the body is subject to strains and pain. Your back also includes intervertebral disks which act like shock absorbers between your 30 vertebrae as you run, jump and walk. Your lower back does the brunt of the work so it’s typically where people experience the most pain.

Strains and Sprains

Injuries to your muscles are called strains and injuries to your ligaments are called sprains. There are a number of reasons why your back may become sprained or strained. You can injure your muscles or ligaments by using an improper lifting technique. If you use your back muscles rather than your legs to lift something heavy, you risk a strain or sprain. You can also develop one if you sleep at an awkward angle at night or carry a heavy shoulder bag for a long period of time.


Back pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis in the spine. Over time, the disks that are between the vertebrae become flattened and less effective. Since there isn’t as much cushioning, the joints between the vertebrae become tightly pressed against one another. Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness and back pain, and can also lead to bone spurs.


This is another age related condition that can cause back pain. Your bones can become porous and brittle as you age due to declining calcium levels. The condition, called osteoporosis, is not often associated with back pain but it can cause problems. Brittle bones can be subject to compression fractures which lead to back pain. Simple things like doing daily lifting can create painful compression fractures that can get worse over time.

Herniated Disk

The disks in your spine are subject to rupturing due to wear and tear. The rupture is called herniation, but many people refer to this condition as a “slipped” disk. The herniated disk will pinch against one of the nerves in your spinal cord and pain results. One of the most common nerves affected is the sciatic nerve that runs the length of your lower back, buttocks and leg.

No matter where your pain is originating from, physical therapy can help. Let Fortius Physical Therapy help you find the source of your back pain. Together we’ll develop a treatment program that will help relieve your pain and get you on the road to recovery.