Why Does My Back Hurt? 10 Possible Causes

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back pain

Posted: 12 June 2018

Back pain is associated with depression and lowered job productivity. It’s safe to say it significantly impacts your life if you suffer from it.

“Yes, I know the pain is immense, but why does my back hurt?” you may ask. Knowing where the pain came from is tricky.

It seems to come from out of nowhere. Our backs are so essential to our activities of daily living that the source of our pain could be any number of different twists, turns, or lifts.

But when it comes to back pain culprits, some are repeat offenders. We’ve rounded them up.

Read on to discover some of the most likely causes of your back pain. You may not find exactly the source of your specific pain, but chances are good that you’ll get some much-needed clues.

Why Does My Back Hurt?: The List of Candidates

Some of these sources of pain are more obvious than others, but all of them represent conditions that we get used to or can otherwise go unnoticed. Use this list as a chance to refresh yourself on the dangers various illnesses and environmental factors can pose to your back’s health.

1. Pregnancy

Here we’ve got the literal mother of all back issues. It stands to reason that carrying another human being inside you would do a number on your back.

Additionally, in pregnancy, women release a hormone called relaxin that loosens the ligaments in the pelvic region in preparation for childbirth. One of the drawbacks of relaxin is that it can also loosen ligaments that support the spine. This leads to pain and instability.

If you’re pregnant, consult your ob-gyn if you experience unbearable back pain for long periods of time. Work with your doctor to see what treatment is right for you.

2. Arthritis

There are many forms of arthritis. They can all cause inflammation in the joints, and that doesn’t just mean your hands, feet, arms, and legs.

There are plenty of joints in your back, and if you have arthritis, there’s a strong chance it’s the source of your suffering.

3. Scoliosis

People who have scoliosis usually find out early on in life. Most of us remember being checked for the condition in our gym classes.

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that can cause strain and pain from a lack of proper support.

Most scoliosis is mild, but severe cases may cause an intense amount of back pain.

4. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are an insidious cause of back pain. Many people’s minds don’t immediately jump to them, possibly because they’re not aware of their kidney stones in the first place. But kidney stone pain is so prominent it has its own name, renal colic.

If your back pain comes from kidney stones, you may feel it along the side of your body below your ribs. If that sounds like your pain, visit your doctor as soon as possible.

5. High Heels


You wouldn’t think of high heels as a medical condition like scoliosis, but they are more similar than you think.

High heels throw your body off balance, which leads to pressure on parts of your body that can’t withstand it. You lean forward to walk. Your calves can’t extend fully.

What results? Lower back pain.

6. Stress and Emotional Triggers

Stress is the secret source of so many of our medical issues. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to affect it.

Mindful breathing exercises and daily meditation can lower your stress significantly. This will lead to less tension in your whole body. A natural byproduct of less tension is reduced back pain.

In addition to breathing, other activities that can reduce stress and intensely negative emotions include walks, yoga, and quality interpersonal time with loved ones. Maybe even try a little golf.

7. Accidents and Injuries

If you suffered in a fall or a vehicular accident, your mind likely traveled to this cause right away. It did so with good reason.

Accidents and injuries are some of the most frequent causes of back pain. Not only do the accidents themselves cause breaks and fractures, but those issues can lead to secondary pain problems later down the line.

8. Spinal Issues

Take your pick of conditions under the “spinal issues” umbrella. The spine is so aligned (pun intended) with the back that it’s impossible not to associate back pain with some form of spinal problem.

One of the biggest corners of the spinal issue world is problems with discs. Discs bulge, slip, get herniated, and they can even degenerate. This leads to less shock absorption in your spine and is a recipe for back pain.

Other spinal issues include wear and inflammation of the sacroiliac joint (where your spine meets your pelvis), spinal stenosis (where your spinal canal has narrowed), and pinched nerves, which often come from problems with spinal discs.

9. Being Overweight

This is more of a correlation than a causation. There is no back pain condition labeled “obesity.”

But people who are obese report greater back pain to their doctors. Losing even a little body fat can decrease your likelihood of lower back pain greatly.

10. Bad Posture


Human bodies are designed to sit for long periods of time. Sitting with poor posture is even worse for us. Add weak abs to the equation, and you’re sure to develop back pain.

Bad posture can tighten your hips and result in weakening of the muscles around your spine that keep it aligned.

To combat the effects of bad posture, engage your core, sit with a neutral spine, and take frequent breaks from sitting.

Getting From the Why to the What

Now you have a better idea of what may be causing your back pain. But don’t let your search for knowledge stop here. You still want to get from “Why does my back hurt?” to “What can I do about it?”

For starters, you can check out our bath and body giveaways to see if there are any that treat the source of your specific back pain.

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