man experiencing back pain

The Most Common Causes of Back Pain


For many Americans, imagining life without back pain is just that--a fantasy. According to the American Chiropractic Association, half of all working Americans experience back pain each year.  It’s further estimated that up to 80% of the population will experience some form of back problem in their lifetimes.

The human back is a complicated network of large muscles, spinal discs, and nerves. Those intricacies can cause problems in both function and treatment. But by identifying the causes of persistent back pain, we can better chart a course toward healing, wellness, and a richer daily life.

UAB Medical West Hueytown Health Center reminds local residents and beyond that, despite the myths surrounding back pain, it is often treatable. These most common causes of back pain are well understood by physicians and can be remedied.

Spinal Issues


Among the more serious and frequent causes of back pain, spine-related issues can cause a host of problems including years of pain, a limited range of motion, and a decreased quality of overall life.


Discs between the vertebrae of the spine can herniate, slip, or bulge pinching nerves and causing pain in the lower back and elsewhere. Herniated discs can cause pain throughout the body, including the arms and feet, while bulging discs have been known to cause back spasms, muscle weakness, and numbness in the legs.


Treatments for common spinal issues range from self-care and therapy to steroid injections and even surgery. As always, a proper diagnosis should only be made by a physician.




A lesser-known back issue, sacroiliitis (say-kroe-il-e-I-tis) is caused by an inflammation of one or both of the sacroiliac joints. These joints support the spine at the pelvis and become inflamed by general wear, accidents, pregnancy, or arthritis.  


Despite being a lesser-discussed ailment, it’s believed that 10% to 25%  of those reporting lower back pain may have sacroiliitis.


Sacroiliitis causes pain in the lower back and buttocks, making prolonged standing, running, and even climbing stairs uncomfortable. Treatments include physical therapy and medication, but without a proper diagnosis, this lesser-known ailment may go unresolved.


Accidents and Injuries


Traumatic accidents and injuries can have lasting effects on the back. Even minor traffic accidents can leave you groping for answers to persistent back pain.


Whiplash--a common injury in vehicular accidents--can cause serious pain in the lower back, as can bone fractures, sprains, and strains resulting from accidents both in and out of cars. Hard falls and strenuous athletic training/playing can easily contribute to issues in the back, including damage to the discs or ligament tears.


From the healthy and active, to the young and athletic, no one is immune from trauma-related back issues. Constant pain requires a definitive approach to treatment and shouldn’t be ignored.




Persistent back pain can result from a lifetime of choices as easily as a split second injury. Years of less-thoughtful habits, stressors, and numerous smaller, unconsidered choices can contribute to enduring pain.


It’s well known that slouching or bad posture can cause spinal misalignments and pinched nerves, but emotions can take their toll as well. Stress and anxiety can amplify minor pain, while smoking tobacco reduces blood flow to the discs.  


Other lifestyle choices such as heavy lifting, being overweight, lack of exercise, and wearing improper footwear can also predictably intensify back pain and discomfort. Fortunately, many of these contributing factors can be solved with a firm resolve and will to improve. But some habits are harder to kick than others, and you may want to consult a physician for help.


Back Health is Overall Health


Back pain is hard to ignore and even harder to live your life around. Family gatherings, vacations, weekend activities, or simply getting out of bed each morning--persistent back pain can impact our quality of life across the board.


You don’t have to live like that. If you or someone you know suffers from back pain, seek a professional opinion from the physicians at UAB Medical West today.

Visit UAB Medical West for back pain relief 

UAB Medical West wants to tackle that lingering back pain with you. Years of frustration, mystery, and skepticism about the health and treatment of your back can be put to bed with a simple phone call or visit. If you have any questions about back-related pain or issues, call 205-996-WEST. Serving Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance, UAB Medical West is here to give you a piece of your life back.