What Are the Causes & Symptoms Of Chronic Back Pain?

Most back pain cases are brought on by strained muscles, accidents, or spinal deformities, although systemic or rheumatic illnesses can also be to blame. When pain lasts longer than three months, it is deemed chronic.

Any spot on the back, from the neck to the lower spine, can experience back pain, and the pain may radiate from a core place, be isolated, or be widespread.

Chronic Back Pain Symptoms

Many injuries, illnesses, or ailments can cause low back pain, but most frequently, a back injury involves the muscles or tendons.

Slight to severe pain is possible, and the pain can occasionally make it difficult to move, sleep, work, or perform other routine activities.

Specific Symptoms:

  • Dull aching pain
  • Sharp or stabbing pain
  • Burning sensation
  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Pain that radiates to the legs, feet, or hips
  • Mild to severe pain that doesn’t go away
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Inability to sit up straight
  • Muscle spasms

Risk Factors

As we previously mentioned, there are numerous causes of lower back discomfort. The spine, muscles, and connective tissue are all impacted in various ways by common disorders and factors, including:


Back discomfort is more commonly reported in people over age 30. Disks, the supple, rubbery tissue that supports the spine’s bones, deteriorate over time. Pain and stiffness may develop as the disks deteriorate and lose their strength.


Back discomfort is more common in people who are overweight or obese. Overweight people exert pressure on their disks and joints at a higher level than those who carry less weight on their bodies.

Poor Health

Back strains and sprains can result from the spine’s inability to be supported by weak abdominal muscles. In addition, conditions that alter the position of the spine, including scoliosis, can cause severe back pain. Low back pain is more common in those with a family history of osteoarthritis, some cancers, and other diseases. Depression and anxiety are both common causes of back pain as well.

Risky Lifestyle

Back discomfort is more common in people who smoke, drink too much alcohol, or lead sedentary lifestyles. Heavy lifting and bending-intensive jobs and hobbies can also raise the risk of back injuries. Back pain can be brought on by long car rides and sports like cross-country skiing.

Herniated Discs

The intervertebral discs, the spaces between your vertebrae, are in charge of cushioning the impact that movement has on your spine. The discs have a stiffer, more fibrous outer wall and a soft inner nucleus. The softer interiors may be displaced and pushed through cracks in the fibrous wall into the spine’s nerves.

When to See a Doctor about Chronic Back Pain

With home treatment and self-care, the majority of back pain gradually gets better over the course of a few weeks. See a doctor whenever you experience chronic back pain:

  • that continues after a couple of weeks
  • is severe and does not get better with rest
  • that makes one (or both) legs to become weak, numb, or tingly
  • is accompanied by an inexplicable decrease in weight

Back discomfort occasionally indicates a significant medical condition. If you have back discomfort and any of the following, get help right away by:

  • new bowel or bladder issues
  • a fever
  • a significant fall

Diagnosis of Chronic Back Pain

A doctor may typically identify back pain after discussing symptoms and performing a physical exam. The condition of the soft tissues of the back can be determined by an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. The doctor could also request a blood test if an infection is detected.

X-rays: X-rays can indicate damage to the muscles, spinal cord, nerves, or disks. The images show the bones’ alignment and can show signs of arthritis or fractures.

MRI/CT Scans: Herniated disks or issues with tissue, tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles, and bones can be discovered by MRI or CT scans.

Bone scans: Bone scans can find osteoporosis-related compression fractures or bone cancers. The test starts with an injection of a radioactive agent or tracer into a vein. The tracer accumulates in the bones and aids the doctor in identifying bone issues with a special camera.

EMG: The electrical impulses generated by nerves in reaction to muscular contractions are measured by electromyography or EMG. This can demonstrate the presence of nerve compression, which a herniated disk or spinal stenosis can bring on.

Treatment for Chronic Back Pain

A patient’s diagnosis will determine which treatments are most beneficial for them. For many patients, a mix of therapies works best.

Treatment Options:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Heat or ice therapy
  • OTC pain killers
  • Stretching
  • Strength exercises
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Prescribed pain killers
  • Back braces
  • Steroid injections
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Chiropractic care
  • Surgery