Back pain seems to be a fact of life. Lower back pain affects as many as 80 percent of adults sometime during their lives. Even though back pain is common among adults, if your pain is severe or becomes more frequent, you should talk to a doctor.
What causes back pain?
Anything from injury to improper lifting to aging may cause back pain. Some of the common causes of back pain include:
- Stretched or strained muscles
- Injuries that damage the muscles, bones, nerves or tissue in the back
- Herniated (slipped) discs
- Obesity and lack of exercise
- Poor posture and poor body mechanics
- Congenital abnormalities or disorders
How is back pain diagnosed?
Physicians evaluate your situation by conducting:
- A medical history to determine your general health and symptoms
- A physical examination to assess the stability, strength, alignment and motion of your back and any neurologic issues
- Diagnostic tests to evaluate the bones and soft tissue structures of your spine. Your doctor may use a number of diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your back pain. You may need an X-ray that shows problems like arthritis or bone diseases. X-rays, however, won’t reveal problems with soft tissue such as the discs or nerves. Your doctor may use a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Other diagnostic tests may include a myelogram, which is an X-ray of the spine using a special dye.